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Wildcats Wired

The Student News Site of Walnut Grove High School

Wildcats Wired

The Best Buddies club strives to create friendships

Best Buddies is hoping to make a big impact on our school’s community
Abbie Fleeman
With handmade signs, sophomore Dane Miller (left) and freshman Ava Fatiregun (right) stand at the USA pep rally promoting school spirit. The Best Buddies club attended the event together. The next Walnut Grove pep rally is October 4th for the forthcoming football game.

The Best Buddies Club is in the stands decked out in red, white and blue to match the U.S.A. pep rally theme. 

  Dressed in colorful necklaces and headbands, they watch the drill team dance and jump in perfect synchronization. Their glittering posters shine messages like “Home of the Wildcats” and “Wildcats Best Buddies are Stars.” They smile in anticipation as the lights finally dim, and the cheer team races onto the floor.

The Best Buddies club seeks to create bonds between general and special education students. They involve kids in school functions like pep rallies and other social events the club plans throughout the year. The U.S.A. pep rally is one of the first of many activities for the program.

“Special education children have always had a very big part of my heart,” Mrs. Ballard said. “It’s an incredible experience watching them become friends; many are lifelong friends. I don’t think there’s anything like it, and it’s an honor to be the sponsor of this group.”

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Mrs. Ballard is an inclusion teacher. Ballard also has a freshman and senior resource English class at Walnut Grove High School. She has taught for 30 years and is excited for the Best Buddies club.

“The sky’s the limit,” Ballard said. “They get to set the standard here for how Best Buddies is going to be not only at the Grove but for Prosper as well.”

The club hopes to get enough general education members to match up with special education kids. The program surpassed that goal and now has around 60 members, with more still wanting to join.

“It’s nice to have a lot of different members,” Mackenzie Kingston said. “They all just love the connection of special and general education students, and I think the idea of that friendship is amazing.”

Kingston is a junior at Walnut Grove High School. Kingston is one of the club’s officers. Kingston has always had a passion for special education. Her goal as an officer is to create more inclusivity for special education students and facilitate friendships with them and other kids.

“It’s very easy to group people,” Kingston said. “You shouldn’t let that determine who you open yourself up to. I’ve had some of the best friendships from special education, and I would love for others to experience that.”

The Best Buddies have many socials planned and events they want to attend this year. They have plans for a movie night and a board game social at a local coffee shop. They also want to hold a morning donut event in the forum. The club members can sit out on the grass and have a donut or play yard games.

With a big smile, Nicole Christensen is up bright and early at the WFAA 5 a.m. pep rally. She holds a sign to promote the Best Buddies club. “I love going to the pep rallies with the buddies. It’s fun to get to know them better and see them smile.” (Abbie Fleeman)

“I’m excited because not just best buddies can do the socials,” Kingston said. “But everyone can, so I think they’ll enjoy it.” 

The officers and Mrs. Ballard put a lot of thought into making the socials fun and accommodating for the special education students.

“I think the movie would be good because the buddies are still getting used to us, so they can watch and not be forced to interact as much,” Officer Maryn Shellberg said at an officer meeting. Shellberg is a junior at Walnut Grove.

We are maintaining this mindfulness when planning is important to them. The club believes it’s crucial to create inclusion.

“Just because somebody may look different or learn differently, everybody has something unique and special about them,” Mrs. Ballard said. “And that makes the world a better place.”

Many of the club members can gain meaningful friendships from Best Buddies. Mackenzie Kingston participated in Unified Track last year at Rock Hill High School. The Unified Track program brings general and special education students together to do track. It’s a UIL sport, and the team qualified for state last year. Kingston said she has good memories from Unified Track with her friend Dane Miller.

“Watching him achieve everything he achieved was the most amazing experience ever,” Kingston said. “I just love being his cheerleader because he’s the star of the show.”

Best Buddies hopes to create connections like Mackenzie and Dane’s throughout the year.

“It’s completely changed my life,” Kingston said. Regarding special education programs, “I never felt like I was doing them a service, but now I know they’re doing me a service.”

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About the Contributor
Abbie Fleeman, Section Editor
Abbie Fleeman is a sophomore at Walnut Grove High School. This is her first year on the Wildcats Wired staff. Abbie plays for the tennis team. She loves listening and playing music, working out, and hanging out with her friends. Abbie is currently the section editor of Wildcats Wired, and a social media manager for Grove Media. She is excited for the opportunities the newspaper brings!
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