Beyond the Class

Students formed close relationships in program through step-outs.


Ava Peters and Sadie McDonald

Sitting in the front seat of junior Drew Parisi’s Highlander, senior Jack Waters turned up the volume to Disturbia, by Rihanna, one of his favorite songs. Waters’ homecoming date, freshman Evie Rogers, and junior Ellie Peters sang out all the lyrics in the middle seat, until the four of them arrived at Brio, where their group was eating dinner. 

Peters received a text from Waters’ mom a month prior to the dance, asking if Waters and Rogers could be apart of her group. Peters didn’t hesitate to say yes, because of her close relationship with the two, after talking it through with Parisi, her date. 

“Seeing them so happy to be a part of a big group and doing things that every typical high schooler does made them happy,” Peters said. “You could tell it was a big deal.”

Parisi and Peters both had student leadership roles in the Social Skills class. It was Peters’ second year in the class, and Parisi’s first.

Social Skills was everyone’s favorite hour because of the bonds they formed day to day, including senior Kala Christian. As Christian’s last opportunity to be a leader in the class, she wanted to soak up every second of it by hanging out with the students outside of school, before she went to an undecided college to double major in special education and psychology. 

Throughout her two years in the program, Christian became close with sophomore Anaya McGaugh. Christian and McGaugh grew closer by taking trips to Starbucks, watching Mama Mia 2 and filling in adult coloring books outside of class.

The class gave the students an opportunity to grow and make relationships that stretched beyond the classroom. And through step-outs, when student leaders took social skill students to hang out somewhere outside of class, they were able to build their relationships with each other.

Christian and seniors Peter Korhing and Molly Hogan met McGaugh, sophomore Gersan Cardona and junior Tom Grey at Ward Parkway Lanes for two rounds of bowling. The group sat at the table as McGaugh picked up her ball from the rack. While they watched, she impressed them with the skills she learned from her last bowling themed birthday party.

“Step-outs are good because you get to know someone during school,” Christian said. “You only get to know so much of someone, so it’s good to be outside of the classroom with them.”

The class provided the students and leaders a safe environment inside the classroom to learn life skills like how to order food from a restaurant or act as expected around their friends. As their class motto said, “We’re all Working on Something.”

“Every person communicates differently so you have to learn how each person communicates and expresses their feelings,” Peters said. “It’’s like forming a new friendship, and since I have been in it for two years I know a lot of the kids well.”

Senior Peter Korhing always looked forward to passing by his Social Skill friends in the hallway during passing periods. 

“My favorite part is getting to have a class with those kids,” Kohring said. “I like being a friendly face in the halls, getting to say hi and hanging out with them.”

It was a Tuesday afternoon when Christian texted McGaugh’s parents if she could take her on a Starbucks run after school. When they agreed, McGaugh was excited to order a mocha frappuccino, while Christian got her usual cold brew. It was one of many Starbucks runs, and wouldn’t be the last for the two.