To many teenagers, homecoming has become an expected part of their high school experience. But one group of Corona del Sol High School students received a special invitation to their first homecoming dance just this year.
Members of the Tempe school’s Sol Buddies organization, a group that fosters the development of relationships with students with special needs, decided to ask some of the students in the special education program to accompany them to the homecoming dance Sept. 21.
“It’s not like they’re not allowed to come,” said Yael Ozair, a Sol Buddies officer. “They have just as much of a right to come and have amazing time with everyone.”
The night was complete with a trip to Fleming’s in Chandler. Michael Garcia, master chef at Fleming’s and father of one of the students invited to the dance, provided a free dinner at the well-known steakhouse.
“You could just see in their faces,” Ozair said. “They were just beyond excited.”
Jayelee Dorris, sponsor of Sol Buddies, said they hope to make this an annual tradition and hope that other restaurants will emulate the generosity displayed by Fleming’s for future homecomings.
Ozair said she also plans to invite the special education students to prom later this school year.
“This is my last year at Corona so I wanted to do as much as I could while being there,” Ozair said.
This year, the Tempe Union High School District started a campaign titled “I’m [IN]” to demonstrate why TUHSD is a premier high school district in Arizona. Playing off of that campaign, Dorris created the slogan “Abolish [IN]tolerance” to describe the efforts being made at Corona to promote inclusivity.
Besides including the special education students in the homecoming dance, Dorris said that the National Honors Society will also include eligible special education students for the first time this year.
“They’ve earned the right to do that and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be included because they take different classes than the honors kids,” Dorris said.
Five special education students met the GPA requirement of 3.6 or higher and will be inducted into NHS on October 22. Dorris said that the students and their parents were excited and surprised at the acceptance into NHS.
“It just touches my heart to see their pure joy out of it all,” Dorris said.
Jessica, a junior studying journalism at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is an intern with the Tribune this semester. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6548.