Tuesday, December 4, 2012

THS 'Special Opps' group receives another grant

by the Capital Journal:
Jack Hishmeh’s campaign to create a special room for special needs students at Topeka High School has received another financial boost.
The Topeka Active 20/30 Club has presented a $3,000 grant for the project through the Topeka Public Schools Foundation, school officials announced Friday.
Hishmeh is the Topeka High junior who initially developed lunchtime friendships with fellow students dealing with cerebral palsy or Down syndrome, then turned his interest into a campaign to convert the school’s special needs classroom into a more appealing place.
“His determination and extraordinary caring for others is leading the way to make this project a financial reality,” Pamela Johnson-Betts, executive director of the foundation, said of Hishmeh’s efforts.
After soliciting grants and other help for his project, Hishmeh and other THS students in his “Special Opps” group have begun a transformation of the special needs classroom Hishmeh once described as an upgraded storage room. His ultimate goal, after having completed a painting and wall-patching makeover this past summer, is to install new flooring, cabinets, furnishings and computers for the special needs students.
“I just had such a passion for the students in this classroom,” he said. “I felt like these kids deserved more than just a storage room.”
School officials say future contributions will help develop a kitchen area that will help special needs students develop life skills, as well as a lounge area to encourage the promotion of relationships through games and activities.
Lowe’s Home Improvement has been a major contributor in providing materials and human labor for the project. The Junior League of Topeka and Russ Ball Cabinets also have been active in the project, school officials said.

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