California Educator

August / September 2017

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a t K a i s e r Hi g h . Th e y a re c h e e re d a s th e y st e p of f th e i r b u s e s by th e K a i s e r stu d e n t " L i n k Cre w " — t ra i n e d a m b a s s a d o r s w h o h e l p d i re c t a n d a s s i st during th e d ay 's e vents. Th e cre w esc or ts th em to the auditorium , w here they eat breakfast and hear presentations on health and nutrition . Athletes next participate in a parade, each group preceded by th eir school bann er. Th e Kai ser High S c h o o l m a r c h i n g b a n d p r o v i d e s m u si c a l a c c o m - paniment as they cross the campus. Teachers open classroom doors and students cheer as athletes make their way to the stadium. At the opening ceremony, the school's JROTC, drumline and cheerleaders per- form before competition begins. " I h a d s o m u c h f u n ," s ay s Au tu m n G i l m o re , a n 11th-g ra d er in Gi ardin a's cl a ss. " Helpin g w ith th e p re s c h o o l e r s , t h e w a t e r a c t iv i t i e s , a n d w a t c h i n g M r. G g e t s o a k e d w e r e m y f a v o r i t e p a r t s . I a l s o e n j o y e d a l l t h e s t u d e n t v o l u n t e e r s t h a t h e l p e d a n d m a d e it su c h a sp e c i a l d ay." As regular education student volunteers have become more involved, Giardina has observed two substantial student benefits he did not foresee. First, removing barriers to interaction with special ed students has led student volunteers like Mendoza-Lopez to consider spe- cial education teaching as a career path. Second, as regular education class mentors built friendships and increased interaction with special ed students, the latter's verbal and auditory skills showed faster improvement. Splash and Dash, in effect, has fostered a safe envi- ronment where stigma gives way to intellectual and emotional growth on both sides. "It was a powerful realization to its original cre- ators that a program built for students with special n e ed s w oul d creat e m ore l a stin g ch an ge to th o se who did not compete," Rasmussen says. "By pulling down barriers that limit inclusion , al l students in the district have benefited ." For more information about Splash and Dash, contact Michael Giardina at " Administration support and teacher buy-in is key. Ideas such as Splash and Dash that become realities showcase educators' investment in education." — MICHAEL GIARDINA, FONTANA TEACHERS ASSOCIATION Athletes participate in a parade across campus on their way to the stadium. Below, members of Kaiser High's Link Crew, which helped direct and assist during the day's events. 59 A U G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 017

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