Students work with Down Syndrome Association to host sweetheart dance

Reagan Brown

Through the International Baccalaureate program offered at Bryan High,students are required to do a CAS project which includes components of community, action, and service. These projects push students to investigate, prepare, take action, reflect, and demonstrate. Although the IB program heavily focuses on academics, it also stresses the importance of creating well-rounded students who contribute to their community. Juniors Keaton Hare, Lucy Raleigh, and Ike Taylor worked with the local Down Syndrome Association to host a sweetheart dance for Valentine’s Day to provide an opportunity for these students while also learning about the process of hosting the event.

The CAS project facilitates a way for students help the community by requiring them to communicate and interact with others.

“The CAS project provides students with a chance to feel empowered and accomplished,” CAS co-coordinator Lisa Prejean said. “Since the IB students choose their own projects, they are often more passionate about the outcome. In addition, the completion of the CAS project shows the community that high school students care about the world and want to have a role in making a difference.”

The project gave the students a structure to create their project and help their community.

“I got the idea for the project from never seeing any of the kids in life skills classes at school dances,” Keaton said. “I wanted them to have a place where they felt welcomed.”

Keaton also had a more personal reason for wanting to host this event as a way to provide a new opportunity to another portion of the community.

“It’s something I really care about because my cousin, who’s like a sister to me, has Down Syndrome,” Keaton said. “The dance also seemed like a fun idea in general and a chance to hang out with other kids.”

Though Keaton has experience working with children who have Down Syndrome, the night helped reinforce some of the things she already knew on a much larger scale.

“I gained the realization that we are all the same and we just want to be accepted and enjoy ourselves,” Keaton said. “The most rewarding part of the night was simply hanging out with the other kids at the dance and getting to know them.”

Despite Lucy and Keaton’s expectations for the event fell short, the overall experience was still positive.

“There were less kids in attendance than we hoped would be there, but the kids who came had fun,” Lucy said. “I think the attendance we had was better because all the kids that came were a tight knit group and enjoyed the night.”

The girls learned that putting on an event, no matter the size, can be a difficult endeavor and requires a lot of preparation, communication, and time.

“I learned that it is really difficult to work with other people,” Lucy said. “Getting all the answers we needed, booking the gym, and making sure that everything was in place took a lot of work.”

Though the organization of the event was difficult at times, the girls managed to overcome all the obstacles and believe they had a successful night.

“Once we were there and kids starting showing up, it was super fun,” Lucy said. “Getting everything there ahead of time, figuring out what time to to have the dance, booking the gym, and getting decorations was difficult part of the process.”