HPS looks at unified bowling, establishing skills programs every elementary | news

When members of the Hastings Board of Education convene for their regular meeting on Monday, they will act on a proposal for a new program intended to facilitate inclusion and promote leadership.

Kandace Garwood, director of special education for Hastings Public Schools, presented during the school board work session on Thursday a proposal for unified bowling.

The board will meet 6:30 pm Monday in the Hastings Middle School multipurpose room at 201 N. Marian Road.

Garwood said unified bowling is an outgrowth of the Special Olympics. It’s composed of co-ed bowling teams where at least one person on a team of five bowlers has an intellectual disability.

There’s certain frames the athlete bowls and others where their partners bowl.

Unified bowling makes it possible for students who have never participated in a team sport to be able to do so.

“It can also be a leisure activity that can truly last a lifetime because it can roll right into the Special Olympics,” Garwood said. “It’s a way for our students who participate to really be celebrated and to experience success, and I think would be a highlight for their entire high school experience because this will include Saturday tournaments; it’ll include districts; it’ll include state finals.”

Unified bowling has benefits for partners, as well, including promoting social inclusion and giving the partners a chance to be leaders.

“Other special ed directors tell me how they actually form real friendships,” Garwood said.

High school bowling is a winter sport. Unified bowling would be a fall activity.

At an anticipated cost of $10,000 to $12,000 per year, unified bowling would be one of the least expensive activities offered at Hastings High School.

“I just think this is a tremendous addition,” Superintendent Jeff Schneider said. “I talk all the time, I’m big on all of our activities, all of them, because they add so much to kids.”

Currently, there are 30 schools in Class A participating in unified bowling and 37 in Class B. Hastings would be in Class B.

“We’ve got the facility a block from our high school,” Schneider said of Pastime Lanes. “Let’s roll.”

Garwood also talked Thursday about a plan to establish a skills program in each of the district’s five elementary schools. Currently, just Hawthorne, Lincoln and Watson have a skills program.

The programs that also would be implemented at Alcott and Longfellow elementary schools would be life skills and skills for students who need more accommodations and modifications than most resource students.

“We do want to have a life skills program in every building, and we want to do this with any type of disability to be able to go to their home school,” she said.

Garwood said one intent of special education laws is for services to go with the child, not for the child to have to follow the services.

“You could see why that becomes a problem when we don’t have those programs in every building,” she said.

This move is being made as classrooms open in Alcott, Hawthorne and Lincoln once the Morton Early Learning Center opens next school year for preschool in the district.

“If we don’t do that now, those rooms will fill and then it will be more difficult to try to ask someone to move rooms,” Garwood said. “Now is the ideal time because three of our buildings will have extra rooms.”

The HPS student services department is working with Longfellow Principal Irina Erickson to find room in Longfellow for the program.

Next year, five students will move from Hawthorne to Alcott and eight students will move from Watson to Longfellow. Initially, the programs will be moved to Alcott and Longfellow, but over time as students age in, the programs will transition to serving children in the neighborhoods of those respective districts.

Families could do inter-district transfer as long as there is room.

Garwood said the district receives calls every year from families for special education services at elementaries that currently don’t offer it.

“To us it might not seem like a big deal, but imagine if your child has grown up with friends and neighbors or goes to church and attends different activities and then doesn’t have that same support system going with them to school,” she said.

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