IPS teaches acceptance, inclusion

Ayana Jones, Staff Writer

Several Manhattan High classes have selective enrollment, from applications to auditions, but Interpersonal Skills is based on a multi-step process. 

The enrollment process for IPS is very in-depth as students who want to join need to be nominated, either by a teacher, someone in school, or themselves, then fill out an application. A 10-minute interview is scheduled so they can get to know the student more. After applications are completed,  special education life skills teacher Jamie Schnee and co-teacher Daniel Bellas assess and decide which students would make a good fit for the class.

The class, which is always during second hour, gives students an opportunity to work together and learn about similarities and differences and to learn about people with exceptionalities or disabilities. 

“[We] break down the stigma that society has put on the word disability,” Schnee said, “to be more inclusive of others and just work together towards a common goal of being good members of society [and] community.”

Those in the class all have a goal to change the viewpoint people have. 

“I feel like, as a school, it’s important for us to advocate for that,” student para Emma Sturm, senior, said “Unfortunately, there are people in this world who treat them like they’re less and they’re capable of the same things as [we] are.”

The class has multiple events through the year, including fundraisers and service events. The most recent event to have occurred was unified sports, during FlexTime, where students could sign up for 3-on-3 basketball, knockout, bocce and foursquare. They hope the fun event will become an annual tradition for IPS.  

“We had 110 participants [which] I thought was cool to see people working together,” Schnee said. “I think people did a really nice job of … meeting other people’s needs and accepting others.”