2008-05-14 / Front Page

District activities mark Special EducationWeek

BY ERIN O. STATTEL Staff Writer

The Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District will provide plenty of activities for students to appreciate one another during this year's Special EducationWeek.

The New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA) has sponsored the weeklong event that runs through May 17 this year and recognizes the achievements and accomplishments of children with specialeducation needs since 1985.

This year, Parents of Special People, a special-education parent advisory group for the district, has beenworkingwith Superintendent Richard O'Malley to plan events for the special week.

"Really, this event is to raise awareness and promote the benefits of special education for kids with learning disabilities to make thema part of the community both inside of school and out," said Laura Porter, a member of the board of directors for Parents of Special People. "We got in touch with the superintendent and he loved the ideas, sowe have a week of activities at all the schools."

"It's a great opportunity to recognize the achievements of the district's special-education students," O'Malley said. "It also gives us a chance to acknowledge all of the contributions of the special-education staff and educators in the district and thank themfor all of their hard work."

According to the NJSBA'sWeb site, Special EducationWeek recognizes the achievements of 236,000 students throughout the state with special needs and the commitment of their parents and teachers. The theme for this year is "Building the Future, One Student at a Time."

In addition to Gov. Jon Corzine's proclamation, both Aberdeen Township and Matawan Borough issued proclamations acknowledging Special EducationWeek.

Annissa Esposito, also of Parents of Special People, coordinated the school district events in Matawan and Aberdeen with O'Malley.

"This is the first year we are doing this," Esposito said. "We based the activities off other school districts'previous activities and Dr.O'Malley has been very proactivewith us to help get this done."

Special Education Week activities include various fundraising efforts, which will support theMatawan-AberdeenHusky Special Olympic team. Students at the Cambridge Park, Lloyd Road and Cliffwood schools could wear their pajamas to school and give a dollar donation lastMonday.

On Tuesday, silver and burgundy ribbons, representing children and adults with disabilities,were tied onto school buses, raising community awareness as they drive the streets of Matawan and Aberdeen. Flowers of appreciation were to be given out on Wednesday to special-education staff in the district to thank teachers and professionals for their encouragement and support.

Thursday's events are left up to each individual school to acknowledge Special Education Week. The week will culminate with yet another pajama day, and silver and burgundy ribbons will be available for 50 cents on Friday.

All of the events supported the Special Olympics team.

"The teamcompetes against other school districts and their Special Olympics teams in Monmouth County," Esposito explained. "The various events this week will fund some of the expenses the team incurs and also to send the kids to Snow Bowl."

Snow Bowl, Esposito explained, is an invitational football clinic hosted by the New York Giants at Giants Stadium.

"The Giants players help teach the kids how to kick and throw," Esposito said. "Had we known about it this year, we would have sent some children to play with Super Bowl champions. So we are trying for next year since they hold it in early February."

Esposito explained that this is the first year the parent advisory group has held fundraisers because it is in the process of becoming a nonprofit.

All funds will benefit the Matawan-AberdeenHusky SpecialOlympic Team. Funding for the week's events came from the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District's Parent TeacherOrganizations and the Cliffwood VFWPost 4745.

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