CANYON, TX (KFDA) - Many people form some of their strongest and longest lasting friendships during their high school years.
It all comes down to groups. You have certain groups of kids that go through high school - general education and special education. Sometimes, those two worlds never blend.
They are today, though, at Canyon High School in a program called "Eagles, Inc."
"Our activity period, which is kind of like a home room - we get out board games and there is a Wii in one of the rooms," explained Karen Dabney, the transition director at Canyon High School. "We told them, 'We just want you to hang out. We want you to be genuine friends.' We want them to last past high school, so you really have to hangout together. So they come together at that time and they do arts and crafts, play board games - Uno, Skipbo, stuff like that - but they also go with us on our community based field trips, so it's really just focusing on those true, genuine friendships just like every other high school student. It's important."
This particular project aided wildlife rehabilitation.
"They are building hawk boxes, or you can call them raptor boxes," said Stephanie Oravetz of Wild West Wildlife. "We get calls for injured and orphaned hawks, owls, falcons, so these boxes are for transporting them."
Jonathan Borchers, a special education student participating in Eagles, Inc., says this program helps the entire school.
"Because us TLC students don't feel left out or any of that," said Borchers. "We have general ed come in and interact with us."
Dabney says this program helps break the stigma that comes with special education.
"There is a stigma that comes along with special education, and things like this just really help to break that down," Dabney said. "They are no longer just the 'special ed kid.' They are, you know, Karen or Dave. They are just kids like everyone else, and the friendships are real and true, and it is just so cool to see."
Stella Alexander, a general education student in Eagles, Inc., speaks on the friendships she has made in the program.
"Every person in this program, Eagles Inc., are all sweet, all very sweet, and they all have different personalities," said Alexander. "Every other day they may have on or off days, but it's okay because they like you, they like being around you, and I like being part of this program. I get to learn how to act around them all the time, to know they are just people and they go through everything that we are going through. They are just teenagers, and they need to be treated the way we are."
Dabney comments, "Diversity is being asked to the party, but inclusion is being invited to dance. And so when I look around here today, to me they are all dancing. I just love it. It has been so cool to see."
Students from two very different worlds are collaborating, interacting, and growing as they become better people and better friends.
Now that's some good news.