The students in Langley High School’s special-education program presented the school with a gift on Friday, Nov. 19. With the help of Leilah Johnson, the chairman of the PTSA’s Landscape Committee, the students turned a regular dirt path that leads from the parking lot to the school’s side entrance into a path that looks like it belongs in a fairy tale.
The students laid stepping stones onto the inclined path, but first they had to make those stones. “The students did it all themselves,” said Kristin Odrobina, one of the special-education teachers at Langley, “I just helped them mix the cement at times.” She added that the students brought the materials to decorate the stones from home and then designed them themselves. Johnson praised Odrobina and her teaching partner, Justin Dickerson, for doing a great job of teaching the students and providing support during the project. “These teachers do a tremendous job,” she said. Dickerson team-teaches with other teachers in Langley in order to help the special-education students take regular classes, such as computer classes.
“They have a special-ed program that is truly an amazingly good program,” said Johnson of Langley. She added that the students from the program are very active in the school’s daily activities. According to her, they are very much a part of the whole school. That was evident when a number of other students, like Anne Winter, a Langley cheerleader, came out in the rain to see the stepping stones be laid down on the path.
The motivation behind the project, according to Johnson, is student involvement. She also worked with the school’s art department. Johnson said that when students are just given something, they do not appreciate it as much as when they work on it. She hopes the community will realize that the project is not meant for baby-sitting the program’s students. Johnson said, “I don’t think that the general community has any idea how talented these kids are.” She hopes that the path may correct some attitudes in the community regarding students with special needs.
“She put a lot of effort into this,” said Nancy Ayoub, the co-president of Langley’s PTSA, commenting on Johnson’s work. “Her heart is in it,” she said. This is the first year that the PTSA had a landscaping committee, and according to Johnson, Ayoub was one of the main proponents of it.
As for the students, they enjoyed working on a project to improve the school’s look. ”It was so much fun,” said Cameron Graham.