Unheralded students

Dear Editor:Week in and week out there is mention in The Downey Patriot of education initiatives and achievements for the Downey school district and its students. I have to say it makes me proud to be a citizen of a city that has always excelled in education and constantly finds ways to involve the community in a supporting role. The Patriot alone is increasing issue space dedicated to the local schools, ranging from elementary school to high school. The local Downey Library, too, is instrumental and creative in developing programs to lure the young readers of all ages. Not to mention the local politicians always showing up to the local little league baseball presentations or the fundraisers for many children charities around town. Very proud, I tell ya! Well, for the most part, that is. But there is a side to me that wishes for a greater attention to a certain unmentioned, unheralded part of our educated young minds that make up a small fraction of the student body: the special needs students. Having been raised and educated in the Downey school system since the sixth grade, I remember co-existing in my high school classrooms with the special-needs kids from the now-defunct-SELACO high school on the Downey High campus. It's been nearly 15 years. I remember how we all shared certain classes throughout the school day, as a way of co-existing. And of some of us, still to this day, remain good friends. There is a lack of city-wide attention to special-needs student events and programs. These could be offered in publishing after-school services and more presence of elected officials facilitating the local Special Olympics efforts; something similar to the attention given to the annual Arc Walk through the streets of Downey. Perhaps elected officials sponsoring a showcase of efforts through an art contest or open house could be worked into the school year. In the special-needs community, whose student's are dealt with more acceptance challenges in life than the normal everyday student, this can have a lasting inspiring impression and build confidence. One day, maybe just maybe, Downey's next American Idol can be a special-needs scholar. - Yvette Palomares, Downey

********** Published: November 6, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 29