Best Pals at North High School is not your ordinary school club. “Being a Best Pals member is an amazing and rewarding experience,” said Danielle Beck and Jacqueline Kislin, club copresidents.
Kathryn Duggan, club co-advisor/speech therapist, explained that the club is “designed to give our special education students the opportunity to become more integrated in our school community.” Some 40 general education club members plan the social events experienced and enjoyed by the approximately 30 special education club members. Now in its fourth year, the club helps students “cross the invisible line that too often separates those with disabilities from those without,” Duggan said.
The club offers social-interaction opportunities for special education students where they can develop one-on-one friendships and meet similar students from other districts. Popular events include: Thanksgiving Feast, Pajama Movie/Game Night and St. Patty’s Scavenger Hunt. At these events, typically held in the evening, the space is festively decorated and there are refreshments, games and often a DJ.
The success of the club has led to interactions with special education students from New Hyde Park Memorial High School. Last year, these students attended Best Pals’ annual Valentine’s Day Dance and North students went to New Hyde Park’s annual Spring Fling. Jennifer Nastri, club co-advisor/special education teacher, said, “The students have such a wonderful time and are able to benefit from settings outside the classroom to expand their social skills.”
Students from both schools are eagerly looking forward to renewing old friendships and making new ones at North’s Halloween Costume Party on Thursday, Oct. 29, from 6 to 8 p.m., in the school Commons. Best Pals members and advisors look forward to creating these special experiences for years to come.
Best Pals offers students in the ACE (Academic & Career Education) program an opportunity to reach some of their curriculum-required social and life-skills goals.