SPED kids and volunteers speed to deliver flowers


Teacher Nikki Guckian hugs an AD Team member as she was given the poinsettia.

Caitlin McKeand, Co-Editor in Chief

Bright red flowers wrapped in green foil were cradled in students’ arms as they rushed to deliver them to teachers throughout the school.

The Viper Nation Education Foundation sold  poinsettias as part of a fundraiser in order to support the Special Education Department as well as the teachers, students and other organizations that promote inclusion and acceptance.

“The mission of our booster club is to promote the capabilities and gifts of the students in SPED,” president of the SPED booster club Lisa Dennis said. “We are always looking for opportunities that promote the vital contributions our students are capable of making, including community service (participating in filling BOO bags in October) and prevocational training (Viper SPED Day at Cups & Cones).”

The truck full of poinsettias arrived from Brookwood Community of Houston on Saturday, Dec. 3, with approximately 80 plants. All of the plants were planted as seeds earlier this year.

“The delivery of the plants at school on Monday by students from SPED will bless our students with the joyful experience of giving,” Dennis said. “While also allowing them an increased positive presence in various departments and areas of VHS where many of these students don’t necessarily attend their classes.”

Dennis said that having the students in the Special Education Department deliver the plants during PIT on Monday gave them a chance to contribute to the Secret Pal program, to assist the booster club in getting the plants to the correct recipients, and mostly to serve as ambassadors of the department the fundraiser is supporting.

“VHS has a very large and diverse student population,” Dennis said. “While several students participate in programs and clubs like AD Team and PALS which promote including our students and building friendships, there remain large numbers of students and teachers that do not have the opportunity to interact with SPED students on a regular basis.”

Carla George was the one who started the Secret Pal Program, which works  with the SPED program and AD Team. Shauna Upp, who is a parent working with the SPED program proposed the idea of delivering the plants to the Secret Pal teachers.

“She replied within minutes with a ‘yes, yes, yes, that is a fantastic idea!’ She was thrilled that the Viper SPED Booster Club and students get to play a small part in the Secret Pal Program,” Upp said. “The response has been overwhelming – allowing the students to take an active part in delivering the poinsettias to the teachers and sharing in the joy of the season is so special to me.”

Upp said she hopes that all students will feel more comfortable to initiate positive interaction and that would carry over into other times during the school day as well.

“Each and every one of us has so much to offer and giving students the opportunity to interact with others who you might find are more alike than different – if even just for a few minutes will hopefully make the next encounter that much easier,” Upp said. “I think that VHS can be a game changer when it comes to promoting and encouraging inclusion and I look forward to watching this happen!”

Rose Deragon shares the same views as the rest of the parents participating.

“It is critically important that our students are understood and respected, all students regardless of their differences deserve to be appreciated and loved,” Deragon said “The partnership with the SPED booster club gives our students, not only funds for more activities and teaching materials, but a voice.”