Life Skills classes compete at Job Olympics

Kaitlin Clark, Print Editor-in-Chief

Every week this school year, the Life Skills group has gone on a trip somewhere in the community, and recently, their trip was to the Job Olympics competition at K-State, where they earned a total of six awards.

Job Olympics is an annual competition in which high school students in Special Education programs compete in contests that range from bagging groceries to folding napkins. Although it is a competition, a large part of the experience is just having the opportunity for students to be there and participate.

“They do award medals first through third, but it’s more just about having the opportunity to compete,” said Caroline Gunn, Transition Coordinator and Special Education Teacher.

This unique opportunity gives special education students the chance to showcase skills that they may not be rewarded for on a daily basis and is an important experience for them.

“It’s just an awesome opportunity for our students, so I’m really glad … we’ve got it kicked off here at the high school,” Gunn said.

While the Job Olympics was one of the more major trips the Life Skills class has taken this year, they do go on weekly trips around the community. In the past, they have gone to places such as Britt’s Farm, Walmart and most recently the K-State gardens and insect zoo. Additionally, students work with teachers once a month to make lunch for the class, which most recently took place last Thursday. These experiences are meant to be educational, but also enjoyable for students. The teachers that go on these trips with them said that they have seen the impact they have on students.

“We have discussions about what they learned, and what they took away from these places that we go in the community, like in the future when they can go back to them,” said Sarah Rhodes, Special Education and Life Skills Teacher. “You can definitely tell that they’ve taken a lot from it.”

The teachers who travel with the Life Skills students have found that seeing their students succeed is a fulfilling experience for them as well.

“[The teachers enjoy] seeing their student accomplish something they think they couldn’t or they didn’t know or weren’t aware of, like when students can find something in the grocery store for the first time, or when they touch an insect they never thought they’d touch, something like that,” Gunn said. “Just providing them opportunities to experience new things.”

The Life Skills class will continue taking their weekly trips for the rest of the year, expanding the experiences that students have and showing them opportunities that they have for the future.