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What’s so special about special ed?

An insight into the Mead Special Education program

Brooks Upham, Photographer

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When you think of Mead High School, what usually comes to your mind? Passionate school spirit? Our football team? Expansive corn fields? What about the Special Education program? Much of the student body at Mead knows that a Special Education program exists, but relatively few seem to be familiar with it. The students of Mead who are part of the program make up a reasonable amount of the school population, at roughly 130 kids.

Mead student Noah Peterson cheerfully fills a whiteboard with math problems.

The Special Ed program at Mead is outstanding to say the least, but what makes it such a good opportunity? What does it aim to achieve for the students enrolled in the program?

“My focus is to help students be as independent as they can possibly be as adults. So the things that I teach them are things that they’re gonna be able to use in their life,” Special Ed teacher Amber Vanzant explains. “We want them to be as integrated with the general population as possible, so they’re able to build friendships and have other activities.”


Kylie Mendez stops to think during her studies. She participated in the Mead cheer team last year, and is a part of the unified soccer program this year.

During their time here at Mead, students also have the opportunity to try out the Unified Program. Worldwide, there are approximately 1.4 million people who take part in Unified Sports, and at Mead, there are 14 students who participate in the program. While other schools in the Saint Vrain Valley district offer a unified program, Mead is the only one to include all three sports (football, basketball, and soccer). The Unified Program at Mead is run through Special Olympics, with the main goal being to integrate people with and without disabilities through sports.

In addition to sports, the program also offers the Score a Friend Club, a group that meets twice a month at lunch to plan awareness campaigns, special events, and meets once a month outside of school to do fun activities together. This is a great way to help students make new friends and get them more involved in the community.

When asked about the students’ plan for after high school, Amber Vanzant replied, “It kind of depends, some students will go on to work at Walmart or King Soopers. Unfortunately there aren’t enough opportunities.” In terms of further education, there are multiple programs offered by Colorado colleges designed for students with learning disabilities. “UNC has a program, Metro has a program, that’s for students with intellectual disabilities. I don’t know any students going to those programs; After high school they typically go to a 18-21 program the district has… Where they start focusing even more on career and life skills.

About the Contributor
Brooks Upham, Reporter

Brooks Upham is a senior at Mead High School. Some of his hobbies include playing piano, balancing rocks, rollerblading, and taking photos. He hopes to expand his knowledge of journalism and his role on the Mead High School Journalism Staff.

You can contact him at [email protected]


5 Responses to “What’s so special about special ed?”

  1. Amber Vanzant on October 1st, 2018 6:08 pm

    Great job Brooks!

  2. Rachel Long on October 2nd, 2018 2:00 pm

    Great article! I love our Special Education department. If you haven’t had a chance to meet some of these great students, take the time to say hi in the hallway or at lunch and go to a Unified game to cheer them on.

  3. Conner Henman on October 4th, 2018 7:18 am

    Well done Brooks, as always.

  4. Adah McMillan on October 4th, 2018 7:20 am

    This article is wonderful! The Unified Sports basketball game was my favorite assembly last year because I could feel everyone’s enthusiasm and support for every student.

  5. Lily Orozco on October 4th, 2018 7:24 am

    I really enjoyed this article. I didn’t know that the unified program offered all three sports, I thought it was just basketball.

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