Unified and ILS Programs Creating Culture

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Unified and ILS Programs Creating Culture

Unified Flag Football celebrates after a game.

Unified Flag Football celebrates after a game.

Issac McKinley

Unified Flag Football celebrates after a game.

Issac McKinley

Issac McKinley

Unified Flag Football celebrates after a game.

Carter Walz, Staff Reporter

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Rocky Mountain High School is recognized state-wide as a school that involves and incorporates everyone, and that trait is personified within the Integrated Learning Supports (ILS)  program. The ILS and Significant Special Needs Program (SSN) program helps students with significant special needs. 

The purpose of ILS and SSN programs is mainly to get students with disabilities in with the rest of the school’s population, inside classrooms with other students, playing sports with everyone else, and to make everyone’s school environment happier and healthier. 

This is called inclusion philosophy. And it does just that, includes everyone. Renee Perry, ILS teacher at Rocky stated that, “When [I] started at Rocky in 1995, teachers weren’t open to programs like this as people with significant needs didn’t go to school, grow up, or exist around them. Now, with people being around SSN students their whole lives is allows for culture that is not only accepting of all students being in all places but for everyone to be seen as who they are.”  She goes on to say, “It [inclusion programs] makes people realize everybody doesn’t have to show ability in the same way.” 

RMHS has a strong culture, and it is shown in a lot of different ways in a lot of different places in their building and in their activities. The Lobo Way, is what they call it. SSN and ILS programs play a large role in making culture possible. 

In a place with separation and people being excluded from daily life, there comes a disconnect, as if the other person in a phone call where to lose connection. RMHS does not have disconnect. Dustin Noden, an English teacher who assists SSN students at Rocky said,

I think we create culture here by being in the same spaces–by being seen in the overall family, and a part of ‘the pack’…”

— Dustin Noden

just by holding games [Unified Sports] we are sending a message just as valuable.” 

Having been a part of the peer helper program for two years, I can attest to the value of inclusion. What I find when I am in the classes with SSN students is acceptance, fun, and a genuine love for our school. I find the ability to be proud and to be present is unique to the students I work with and I am grateful we have a community who values diversity, acceptance, and inclusion. 

There are many ways for RMHS students to get involved with the SSN students. You can sign up to be a peer helper; you can volunteer for the Connections Club at lunch; you can participate in Unified sports and game, and so much more. 

Counselors can help with schedule changes and provide answers to questions. Check it out; you will be glad you did. With inclusion comes strength — because of our SSN programs and the opportunity for all of us to be involved, I believe that we are stronger, we can do more, and it is part of being LOBO STRONG.