Apex Project Unify and Student Leadership:
Here at Apex High School many students and staff strive to have a community full of acceptance. One way they have accomplished this is through the class Student Leadership and the club Project Unify. In the class, regular ed students get the chance to have a PE class with special ed students. In addition, they play games and get to build relationships with the special ed students. In the club Project Unify, the students get to go on field trips, have fun events on campus and so much more.
The history of the club goes way back. Mr. Lockwood (now a special ed teacher at Friendship and the Cross Country Coach at Apex) founded the Student Leadership club and Ms. Emily took it over eight years ago. She has also worked closely with coach Mo to create student leadership and what it is today. Club and class have become a place for regular ed and special ed students to bond and create strong relationships.
The teacher advisor Ms. Emily, says it “provides inclusive opportunities for regular ed students and special ed students to work together and create high school memories.” These relationships last and even influence some of the regular ed students to major in special education, and to continue working and building relationships with those students.
The club president, Kendall Hale has been in the class ever since her PE teacher Ms.Ivy asked her to apply to be in it sophomore year. She fell in love with special education and is now planning on attending NCState to major in special education. Kendall said she “probably wouldn’t be doing this without Student Leadership and Project Unify.” This club and clubs have done an amazing job uniting students and bringing this school together. She has loved seeing students build relationships with special ed students throughout the years she has been in the class/club.
One of the VP of the club, Sydney Greene, a senior here at Apex says she “cares about advocating for people with special needs, and in Student Leadership, they are able to combine regular ed high school with our special ed buddies” She enjoys making memories with her buddy and the other classmates. Sydney has been a part of the class since sophomore year and has had the chance to experience some amazing memories. Some of these include going to the pumpkin patch, going through the corn maze, and picking pumpkins, with Ms. Emily and Ms. Beka’s classes. She also loved the Charlie Brown play. “Seeing the buddies dress up and be so happy was awesome.” Sydney has loved working with their buddies, learning how to communicate non-verbally, and learning all sorts of skills.
Overall everyone’s favorite part of this club/class is the relationship it creates. Ms. Emily said she “loves watching the relationships grow and passions develop.” Kendall also said she loved playing the game and going to the football game. The relationships this club brings are unbreakable.
However, the past few years things haven’t always been easy. Covid has made things especially hard. Having the class online made it more difficult for students to get to know their buddies and have the same experience they usually do. They couldn’t go on field trips or do the activities they did pre-Covid. And when they were able to go back in person they couldn’t work with Ms. Emily and Ms. Beka’s classes since they were at high risk, but Ms.Emily is working to make things as normal as she can. She is working on bringing back field trips and creating new memories.
For the future of this club, Ms.Emily really hopes things can go back to how they were provided. She hopes that by next fall they can go on field trips, perform plays, dance, and do a lot of the things they did previously. Sydney and Kendall want more people to join the club and get to experience the amazing things they have. They hope people will hear about it and want to join. Sydney said, “ I think part of the future of project unify and student leadership is to let everyone know that the experiences we get with the class/club are really important and special!” Both Sydney and Kendal hope that the stigma surrounding special education will be broken and everyone will see what an amazing club/class this is.