Students with special needs represent Bonita Vista High School through their game against Olympian High School.  Volunteers assisted each  participant through a series of exercises in preparation of the game.

Students with special needs represent Bonita Vista High School through their game against Olympian High School. Volunteers assisted each participant through a series of exercises in preparation of the game. Photo by Sarah Berjan.



By Alexis Jade Ferguson



Bonita Vista High School hosted the annual district-wide soccer event on Wednesday, Oct. 2, honoring students with special needs. These games aim at supporting BVH students in all their diversity and to foster healthy social interaction. High schools from the Sweetwater Union High School District joined together to celebrate the importance of recognizing the students in the special-education program.

“I had fun and a good time playing soccer. I like to play the games. I like helping a team and working together. I did score a lot of points today,” 18-year-old Lisco Scott, special abilities student said.

The event was organized by club members of Baron Buddies, a BVH club dedicated to supporting students with special needs. Among the coordinators included special-education teacher Charleen Love and adapted physical-education teacher coach Jerome Cantwell. Senior Co-Presidents of Baron Buddies Nicole Del Rosario and Blake Anger were excited to see all the support that the soccer players received.

“I want to make sure that they all have the best high school experience. Bonita has one of the best special education programs in our district and San Diego county. Students with special needs want to feel accepted,” Del Rosario said. “This welcoming community is one of the main components that helps them feel normal. Generally, most teachers are open about the idea and send their classes here to watch the soccer games.”

Baron Buddies members served as referees and helped set up prior to the games. Each referee was assigned to a group of players. Before the tournament, these referees trained with the soccer players alongside Cantwell. Two groups made up of six to seven high schools competed against each other.

“I have a lot of friends in special-ed classes around the school. Sometimes they might feel neglected or not in the crowd, so it’s good to show them that we care and love them. We are all friends,” junior and Baron Buddies referee Julia King said.

Cantwell and his team have trained for over three months to prepare for the soccer tournament. In his mind, having fun and good sportsmanship are the key components of success during the games. According to the coach, although many of the students were nervous, they were more excited to do their best on the field.

“I’m really excited for the kids. I expect a great game. I think we are going to do really well and want them to just have fun. The turn-out that Bonita puts on is amazing, it’s like a big party,” Cantwell said before the games.

Most of the students with special needs were able to reconcile with friends from other schools. Before the games, the BVH team sat together. By the end of the games, everyone was thanked for their participation.

“I just love knowing that I’m impacting the lives [of the students]. I love how they are always so enthusiastic about everything they do. I am always so proud of them. They always do their best and play really hard,” secretary and treasurer of Baron Buddies Idalys Piche said. “It’s great for them to know that the whole school supports them and they are not alone.”

BVH cheer also came out to support the students as they would at any other sporting event. The varsity team cheered the soccer players along the sidelines whenever the BVH team scored a goal.

“The students in the program need the support and need to know that people love them.The soccer games are really fun and energetic. We cheer for football and basketball, why not cheer for them?” varsity cheer captain Cameron Gregg said. “They get really happy and it warms their hearts. When the ball rolls out they say, ‘it’s okay, good job’ even if it is from the other team.”

According to Piche and Anger, students can learn from the teamwork that the soccer game participants displayed. The two believe that as Barons, students in the special-ed program should be treated with the same amount of compassion and affection that is given to other students.

“[Events like the soccer game] bring a smile to the faces of the players. We need to give them more attention,” Anger said. “At the end of the day, we are all the same, we are all one family. The students are always winners in our hearts.”