Loading

54°F

50°F

57°F

47°F

57°F

47°F

46°F

57°F

57°F
NEWS STORIES

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

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
Rock throwing case moves forward for one of the accusedSubmitted: 07/31/2014

Play Video

CRANDON - Prosecutors in Forest County accuse a group of four people of throwing rocks off of a bridge and damaging a car. Victims Wednesday described the sound like a bomb going off.

19-year-old Thomas Hines is one of four people facing charges for throwing rocks off of a Forest County bridge just after 3 a.m. June 3, 2014. The other three facing charges include 18 year-old Mariya Tuckwab, 20 year-old Ryan Kitchmaster, and 21-year-old Dillon Votis.

All four face multiple felony charges for recklessly endangering safety and criminal damage to property.

Prosecutors say those rocks hurt a woman inside of the car.

Hines was in court Wednesday for his preliminary hearing.

+ Read More
Man hit by own boat in Vilas County Submitted: 07/30/2014

CONOVER - We don't know the name or the condition of a man in a boating accident. He got hit by his own boat. He was airlifted to a Wausau hospital after a boating accident in Vilas County Wednesday, according to the Vilas County Sheriff's Office.

They say the man was in Upper Buckatabon Lake in Conover Wednesday. They believe he was hit by his own boat a little before 4 p.m.

The man was rescued from the water and CPR was immediately performed. He was flown to Wausau Aspirus Hospital.

+ Read More
Wisconsin Valley Fair Continues to Showcase TraditionsSubmitted: 07/30/2014

WAUSAU - You can find tradition around every corner at the Wisconsin Valley Fair.

Some of those traditions keep vendors coming back.

First English Lutheran Church runs a food booth. 15 to 20 volunteers report to their stand every day.

They've served fair-goers homemade favorites for more than 90 years.

+ Read More
UW Trout Lake Station to host open house FridaySubmitted: 07/30/2014

BOULDER JUNCTION - People of all ages will get to see what it's like to be a researcher up here in the Northwoods.

Researchers at the UW Trout Lake Station in Boulder Junction will host an open house Friday.

Visitors will get to participate in a number of activities.

+ Read More
Man who stashed meth under his seat in court will spend 60 more days in jailSubmitted: 07/30/2014

ONEIDA COUNTY - Oneida County prosecutors couldn't believe how stupid a Tomahawk man was to try and pull a stunt while in court in April.

They say 30-year-old Kurtis Cline tried to stash a bag of meth under his seat cushion in court. Now, Cline will be punished on those charges.

Cline is already serving a six-month jail sentence for theft. Now, he'll have to spend 60 more days in jail for the meth incident.

+ Read More
Classic and antique boat showSubmitted: 07/30/2014

TOMAHAWK - The Tomahawk Classic Motor and Boat Show is a chance for people who love outboard motor boats to come together each year. The show is hosted by the Northwoods Chapter of the Antique Outboard Motor Association and is now celebrating the 35th anniversary of the show.

"A lot of these people have had them, because this is boating country up here," said Northwoods AOMCI President Bob Dalle Ave. "Even the younger ones will say my grandpa had a motor like that or my dad has a motor like that at home. So it's the motors that draw them in."

The show hosts swap meets, boat shows, boat parades, and boat cruises. Out of the more than 200 registered show boaters, many of them planned to do more than just display their boat.

+ Read More
Campers help the communitySubmitted: 07/30/2014

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Many campers come to the Northwoods to enjoy outdoor activities, but for some, it's all about giving back to the community.

A group of 30 students from four-years old through high school age take a week of their summer to attend Crescent Lake Bible Camp.

While they're at camp, they spend their days working on different projects around Rhinelander. Today, they're using their vacation time to improve the pavilions at Hodag Park.

"Today we're prepping and painting the pavilions," says 16-year-old Tylor Hoople. "They have thousands of staples in them. We're pulling all the staples and we're repainting them to make them look a lot better for the park."

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 




Click Here