The hearts of Panthers

Published 6:00 pm Saturday, March 2, 2013

Northside High School is no ordinary place. Spend a few minutes there and you will quickly see a faculty and student body about as close as some church congregations.

That closeness was never more evident than in the school’s classroom for students with moderate intellectual disabilities. Students regularly drop in to say hello to the IDMO students and school clubs reach out to the group throughout the year.

Master Sgt. Charlie Woolard, Northside’s aerospace science instructor, calls it “citizenship.” Students learn to socialize with every member of the student body. They greet each other with smiles, handshakes and the occasional hug in the halls. When an IDMO student expressed interest in the junior ROTC program, cadets welcomed him. After the IDMO student showed improvement in his second tryout for the drill team, the cadets recommended Woolard let him on the team.

Northside High School is the only school in the Beaufort County school system that offers inclusion courses to IDMO students. The students can take physical education, music and JROTC.

The success of the program is the result of a caring student body and teachers with the patience and willingness to accept the challenges inclusion courses presented. All should be commended.

The upcoming prom presented another opportunity for Panthers to reach out and help one another. One student, who has gone out of her way to stay out of the spotlight, started collecting prom dresses to donate to students who, otherwise, could not afford to attend. (Read more about the project and learn how you can help in this week’s education feature.) She has enlisted local businesses, church groups and faculty to make the project a success. Now, that’s the heart of a Panther.