Loading

58°F

58°F

57°F

55°F

57°F

55°F

57°F

64°F

57°F
NEWS STORIES

High School Program Unites Traditional, Special Education StudentsSubmitted: 04/01/2013

Play Video
MINOCQUA - You might think of special education in schools as a group isolated from the rest of the student body.

But in Minocqua, thanks to a unique group, it's the exact opposite.

"Some people are nice to me, some people are not," says special education student Shawn Ravey.

For students in special education, fitting in at high school can be tough.

"I need someone to talk to," he says.

At Lakeland Union High School, Shawn and other special ed students have not only someone to talk to, but much more.

"They're completely just like us. We have friendships, and, maybe we don't hang out every weekend, but just seeing them that one class period makes your whole day. People are like, how do you do that, and I'm like, how do you not?" asks Natalie Sell.

It's called Circle of Friends.

If you look on the school's website, it's listed under Activities, like Forensics or Student Newspaper.

But, makes clear Special Education Instructor Carolyn Brusch, "we're not a club. We're not a project. People make friends in natural situations. It isn't episodic. It's daily."

Every day, high schoolers with a more traditional curriculum spend part of their day in Carolyn Brusch's special education room - with their friends.

"You feel like you're helping someone in their life. You feel like you're making them feel like they have somewhere to belong," says Lakeland senior RaChell Morenweiser.

There's no division here between "normal" and "special" students.

Instead, they just do what friends do, like play games, tell stories, work together on homework, maybe a few chores, and even hit the gym.

Over the decades, special education went from nonexistent in public schools to, later, a segregated area for a segregated group at a segregated time.

Brusch has seen the evolution during her 27 years at Lakeland.

"Nobody wanted to be special anymore. They wanted to be a part of the group. That's what I like about Circle of Friends," she says. "I think it's an acknowledgement that we really have more in common than we do different, and really all people belong together."

The idea only works because of the enthusiasm of what Brusch calls her TA's.

"My TA's are great. That's the beautiful part of it. I can use each part of their personalities, each of their strengths, and each of their talents."

Each one is in Brusch's room, with her students, every day.

"I go in there, and R.J. has a nickname for me. He calls me 'Gingy'. We have nicknames, we joke around, we have fun. It's really about the relationships that you build with each of them," says Kate Herzog.

For some TA's, the idea of Circle of Friends was something new.

"I would always see them, and they'd be like, 'oh, hey Missy!' So they would always come up to me. So I didn't know how to get involved, really," says Missy Johnson.

But now that she's in the circle, "I spend Wednesdays through Fridays, all afternoon in there."

"Being in high school, it's always about fitting in, and having your group of friends that you can relate with and hang out with, and do fun things with. I just thought it would be cool to do that with everyone in this room and make them feel like anyone else walking through the hallway," says RaChell.

But you see, RaChell might have a little closer connection than some of the other TA's.

"I personally know how it feels to be treated differently by other people just because of my appearance - with a wheelchair."

It's brought her closer to her friends in the circle.

"Some kids in here learn different ways, just like I get around."

The TA's definitely have a big impact on their special ed friends.

But don't think for a moment it only goes one way.

"I was thinking about graduating the other day, and I think I'm going to miss them the most out of anyone in this school, because they mean so much to us," says Natalie.

"I have students who were TA's that graduated who still will text me, or they'll Snapchat with R.J., or will do Facetime with Hannah," says Brusch.

"The feeling of belonging, just like any other high school student, they know, you know?" says RaChell.

Story By: Ben Meyer

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
 Print Story Print Story | Email Story Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS
Laona man faces meth chargesSubmitted: 07/22/2014

Play Video

FOREST COUNTY - Prosecutors believe a Forest County man made meth and had other people buy ingredients for him.

36-year-old Shandon Tallier of Laona faces four felony charges.

Police became suspicious when Tallier bought ephedrine or pseudophedrine more than 50 times during the last year. Those are drugs commonly used to make meth.

Tallier was also blocked from buying the drugs more than 20 times in the last year. That's because he already bought more than the federal limit allows in a 30 day period.

+ Read More
Downed power line starts small fire near RhinelanderSubmitted: 07/22/2014

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Gusty winds forced a domino effect that caused a small fire south of Rhinelander Tuesday morning.

Winds blew over a tree, which sent a power line to the ground.

The electrical current started the fire.

It happened just before 11:00 on Hat Rapids Road near Highway 17.

Firefighters were glad the land nearby wasn't too dry with drought.

+ Read More
College board looking for new-member for Board of Trustees Submitted: 07/22/2014

Play Video

RHINELANDER - The Nicolet College Board of Trustees hopes to fill an open seat.

State guidelines mean only a certain candidate can apply for fairness and equal representation.

Criteria for the open seat are that candidates must be female, considered a minority, reside in Oneida County or the portion of Langlade County in the Nicolet District, and meet the definition of an employee.

The new trustee will serve a term that expires June 30, 2015.

+ Read More
Gas station robbed in Stevens PointSubmitted: 07/22/2014

STEVENS POINT - Stevens Point police want to find the man who robbed a gas station last night.

A store employee told police a man came into the Southside B P on Church street just after 9:30 last night.

He demanded cash from the register.

No weapon was seen, but the man kept his hand in his pocket.

He escaped on foot with the money.

Police have not said exactly how much he got away with.

The Portage County K9 unit was brought in to try to track him.

The man is described as being six feet tall with short blond hair.

He was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses.

+ Read More
Kids compete in annual Worm RaceSubmitted: 07/22/2014

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Kids found one of the biggest races of the year in the Northwoods Tuesday.

The Rhinelander District Library hosted their annual worm race.

Teams of two faced off with worms in hand.

Each believing their worm would win the trophy this year.

"ShadowWind is the fastest racer. Because he is never beaten," said 10-year-old Louis Malias.

+ Read More
Trek Bicycles defends ad - GOP files complaintSubmitted: 07/22/2014

Play Video

MADISON -
A spokeswoman for Trek Bicycles says its full page newspaper advertisement complies with Wisconsin law and is constitutionally protected free speech.

The Wisconsin Republican Party on Tuesday filed a complaint with the state elections board saying the ad that ran Sunday in Madison and Milwaukee newspapers was an illegal campaign contribution to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke.

Her father started Trek and she formerly worked for the company.

+ Read More
Wisconsin & Northwoods see home sales grow in June Submitted: 07/22/2014

ACROSS THE NORTHWOODS - Home sales across Wisconsin are up for the first time in 2014 compared to previous year statistics recorded by the Wisconsin Realtors Association.

A strong June for home sales could hint at good news for the rest of the year. Home sales statewide were up more than four percent compared to June 2013.

More than 600 homes were sold in Northern Wisconsin last month. Realtors like Bonnie Byrnes, Headwaters Real Estate, deal with water-front property in the Manitowish Waters area. She credits the second home market for some of the boost in northern numbers

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 




Click Here