High School Club Unites Special, General Education Students

Park High School of Racine, Wi., has raised the public school bar with their initiative to integrate the worlds of general and special education students. Earlier this year, Park High School introduced the program “Panther Pals,” which brings students from both regular and special education classrooms together for lunch, sports and other fun activities.

Panther Pals was created to help special education students socialize and to benefit general education students, who hope to expand their knowledge of the other-sided students, some of which are looking at a future career in special education.

Jamie Shufelt, the lead advisor of Panther Pals, has seen substantial success within the program since it’s start earlier this year. “Their communication skills have increased, like saying, ‘Hi,’ to kids in the hallways. … They feel like they’re part of the school community more than they did before,” she said.

Panther Pals meets once a month, with 20 general education members and 11 of the high school’s severely disabled students. This week, the group celebrated the end of the school year with a picnic at the local community center.