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Helping Kids Soar All Year Long

By Samantha Godbey, Academic Secretary, Helen Keller School of Alabama

 Students working on functional skills with the help of a Functional Skills Enrichment Teacher.The 2022-2023 school year was full of exciting changes for Helen Keller School of Alabama (HKS)! At the start of the school year, the school opened its new, fully accessible playground designed to accommodate students’ sensory and physical needs.

“The Most Wonderful Pine Tree in All the World!” Christmas Program told the story of how a beautiful pine tree changed Christmas for two special families. Students and staff had a wonderful performance in front of a packed audience.

HKS also formed a cheerleading squad. With cheerleading tips from the Alabama School for the Blind cheer squad, the HKS squad made its debut during an HKS basketball game against the Exceptional Foundation. This spring, the HKS basketball team claimed gold at the Alabama State Special Olympics tournament. Go Eagles!

“A History of Firsts” was presented at Talladega’s Historic Ritz Theater for our annual Black History Program. Gladys Swain, retired Talladega College professor, was the keynote speaker. Several notable African Americans from Talladega were also featured, including former Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB) Vice President Vera Hendrix. The Talladega College Choir also performed. Read Across America Week kicked off with a big birthday party honoring Dr. Seuss. Volunteer readers visited classrooms, and afterward, students had cake and activities in the Student Center. The celebration continued with a dress-up theme for each day.

A new Functional Skills Enrichment Teacher, Boncynthia Graham, joined the HKS team in the spring, and had an immediate positive impact on students. HKS also strengthened its partnership with the AIDB RISE Autism Program, which serves students who have Autism Spectrum Disorder and sensory loss. A Board-Certified Behavior Analyst and a Registered Behavior Technician work with HKS students to help them succeed in academics and independence.