I am just going to write, let it flow and send to everyone, so please excuse my grammar.
This past Thursday was a great day and I want share it with you. It was a great day at LABBB! My day began at our Wellington Elementary School meeting with a group of Special Educators from Brookline. They have been asking to visit some of our Programs and wanted to see our Wellington Elementary Program in Belmont. These visits are one of the best parts of my job and I will never let an opportunity like this pass. Let me explain why. LABBB serves students from over 60 districts. District liaison’s that choose to send referrals to LABBB have knowledge of our programs and they know we offer quality special education services. For this to happen they need to know who we are and what we do. Liaisons change from year to year and it is imperative that we take time to show them the full spectrum of services we have. These visits are easy when you are proud of what we offer!
The Brookline team wanted to visit and ask questions about our curriculum, staffing, transitions, room set-up etc. My purpose is to give them as much information as possible to understand the population of students we serve and show them our high quality programming. As the saying goes, “Good idea’s spread,” well, I believe the same holds true for LABBB; therefore, “Good/Great special education programs spread.” The six people who visited were Teachers, Administrators and Principals. Now, do you think that those people will be in the same job 2 years from now? 5 years? What about 10 years? Considering turnover for administrators is fairly high, it is a good chance one or more of them will be working in another district, in a different position and I want them to remember that they visited LABBB and observed the highest quality special education services. They could be working in five different districts and will pass on their knowledge of what they learned.
I want to thank the Wellington staff for being so responsive and helpful as they were getting their students ready for the big field day later that morning.
Field Day at Arlington High School
The Wellington classrooms transitioned to the van after the team observed the classroom and I sat down with the Brookline team to meet. After this meeting I looked forward to getting to Arlington High School for the field day. Participating in this field day were LABBB Wellington Elementary (Belmont), LABBB Ottoson Middle School (Arlington) and LABBB Arlington High School programs. They couldn’t have picked a better day; the sun was shining and it was just perfect weather to be outside. I arrived; luckily, right after the Arlington High School LABBB students finished their water balloon fight. If I got wet that would have been a problem, as I was headed to a graduation soon after.
The field day included face painting, music, games and many other events and it was great to hang outside and talk with students and staff as they were having a great time. The students were smiling and relaxed as they shifted from one event to another. As I was leaving for the LABBB Chenery Middle School graduation, the van drove in with pizza for lunch.
Chenery Middle School Graduation
In an hour the LABBB Chenery Middle school graduation was to begin so I made my way to Belmont. Graduations are always a special time and speaking with the students and their parents about their experience at LABBB is wonderful. They are happy and anxious at the same time, but they feel a confidence knowing they are moving on to another LABBB program. The Graduation at Chenery middle school always has a great turnout. It is held in the auditorium and along with LABBB staff it also includes the best buddies and community helpers, Principal, Vice Principal and other staff from Chenery. Every year a Best Buddies leader speaks at this graduation and I am always amazed at how a middle school student can communicate their experience with the LABBB students so eloquently.
The LABBB Chenery students are introduced by their Teachers and given a certificate of graduation from Middle School. One of the graduates, accompanied by the Chenery Middle School music Teacher on piano, sang, “I’ll be there” to end the ceremony. It was great!
After the Graduation ceremony everyone gathers in the community room for a party. When the students entered the community room it was filled with balloons, and as a surprise, one of the parents had t-shirts made for every student with the students name on the back. Parents are taking pictures, they have food and cake and everyone is just having a great time.
LABBB High School Graduation
The Photo room was buzzing when I walked into the Crestview around 6:00pm as graduates and their families had their pictures taken by Theresa LeBlanc. I stuck my head in just to get a peek and it looked like a media frenzy lined up taking pictures of some sports stars. I was watching as they were taking the group photograph of all the graduates.
The LABBB High School Graduation is a full graduation ceremony with caps and gowns and the Graduates were from LABBB Lexington, Bedford, Arlington and Belmont. We had 35 graduates this year and the seats were filled the room with their families and friends.
The ceremony begins as the students march in to pomp and circumstance, pictures flashing as they take their seats in front. The graduates look magnificent. The students, their families and everyone from the LABBB community are welcomed to this event and it is always an experience to remember. Next, the student speakers are introduced and we are on the edge of our seats wondering what they will say. Each one of them was great! Their speeches were touching, funny and emotional as they told of their experience in LABBB. I just was amazed at how prepared, nervous and composed they were as they read their speech. Some of our students were able to earn a diploma and all the students receive a LABBB certificate as they are called up one by one. This is always an emotional evening and such a great way to celebrate our student’s years at LABBB. Some graduates have started in our pre-school program and have gone right through high school with LABBB. The ceremony ends as they march out with a roaring applause.
One of the Highlights was our Keynote Speaker, Juliet Eyraud. She graduated from Lexington High School this year and has been involved in Best Buddies since her freshman year. Last year she served as vice president and this year as President. She was given the citation from the House of Representatives as one of the Best and Brightest at Lexington high school. She helped organized the LABBB Special Olympics and the 400 hundred volunteers that helped run the event. She also coordinated the “The Say no to the R Word Campaign” which was a tremendous success. Everyone was buzzing afterwards and was just amazed and moved at how she spoke about her experience with LABBB. It is people like this who bring awareness to our students. That is the benefit of having our programs located in Public Schools. This was reiterated by Maureen LeCroix, Superintendent of Bedford Public Schools and LABBB Board Chair, as she wanted to take a moment to speak to the LABBB community and say how special, and what a “Gem” it was to have LABBB Programs in our schools.
Immediately afterwards, everyone gathers in a room for o’deurves as they set up the dining hall and parents, family and staff continue to take pictures and talk. Dinner is served and everyone sits down and relaxes as they listen to the DJ play some nice background music. That does not last too long because as soon as the main course is over, and before dessert, everyone is on the dance floor!
I needed to share this, just because you feel so proud of being part of an organization where students are getting the very best education and life experience!
Thank you to the LABBB staff for making this day possible.