ZEELAND, Mich. — A sendoff full of joy.
“Our whole belief is that every kid belongs,” said Tim Paauw, middle school principal at Zeeland Christian School.
That belief is turned into action. Eighth grade students of the Inclusive Education Program at Zeeland Christian School were able to combine their interests with a field trip full of excitement.
“Zeeland Christian School is passionate about inclusive education. So every ability, every challenge that a student has shouldn’t hold them back from being part of the classroom community, part of the school life,” Paauw added.
As the program's eighth graders prepare for Holland Christian High School, a celebration was needed.
“We just want to have them build a sweet memory as they leave Zeeland Christian School and let them know that we love them and kind of highlight some of their passion points,” said Paauw.
Two of the programs’ students are Aaron and Isaac.
Aaron loves technology and making music playlists.
“We’ve seen Aaron come out of his shell in such a beautiful way.”
Isaac loves being in the spotlight and in front of the camera.
“The opportunity to get him – Isaac – here this morning on camera and on recording is a bit of what I would call his slice of heaven.”
These interests fit the mission at Joy 99.3, a West Michigan Christian radio station.
“The first thing that I thought of was, I am excited that the community of West Michigan will be able to see the talents and the special characteristics of these amazing kids,” said Joy of Joy 99.3.
“When we were approached with the ask to have students from Zeeland Christian come in, it was an automatic yes. Isaac loves to be in front of the camera. Aaron loves technology and all of that coming here today. That's a little bit of what we do in every single part. So it was a really good fit,” said Elsie Bee of Joy 99.3.
The visit included a tour of the radio station, including the ‘Joy Bus’. Arts and crafts were included. The students also recorded the Lord’s Prayer in their studio with radio hosts. All in all, a special day for these students.
“I love that they’re creative and their gifts really do mesh up with what we do here at Joy 99,” said Joy.
“Knowing that everyone wins, when people with disabilities are included, it matters,” said Bee.
Zeeland Christian School hopes to create a unique experience for each of its eighth grade students in the future of the Inclusive Education Program.
“Every student belongs, and every student should feel loved and safe. And they should be seen for who they are, and their puzzle piece should matter,” said Paauw.
►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 13 ON YOUR SIDE app now.
Have a news tip? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit our Facebook page or Twitter. Subscribe to our YouTube channel.