Helena Intermediate students receive special send-off

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

HELENA–Loud cheers and applause could be heard on the backside of Helena Intermediate School the morning of March 17, but it had nothing to do with St. Patrick’s Day.

Luck was involved, however, in the form of wishing good luck to 10 HIS special needs students who were leaving to participate in the Shelby County Schools Special Olympics event in Calera.

All of the students at Helena Intermediate School, which includes third, fourth and fifth graders, lined both sides of the sidewalk with inspirational posters, signs and more that read things like, “We are proud of you,” “Good luck” and “Imagine, believe, achieve.”

As the students eagerly waited for the special needs students, Helena Intermediate School Principal Kathy Paiml got on the microphone and called out each student’s name one-by-one for their own personal grand entrance.

The special needs students were greeted with smiles, applause, high fives and more before leaving for Calera.

“I just like the fact that all the kids are participating,” Sandra Bullock, a parent of one of the special needs students said. “Not every school will do something like this so it’s awesome to be a part of a school that does.”

The students receiving the special send-off were third graders Addie Henderson, Ella Byers and Caleb Gwin. Fourth grader Adrian Ruiz and fifth graders Kyler Heberling, Gianna Pepe, Roland Burke, Ashlyn Bullock, Robbie White and Landon Pharo.

HIS Special Education teacher Carmon Jackson thanked instructional aides Tracy Contorno, Amanda Hiltbruner, Donna Eads, long term sub Karen Pierce and the HIS administration for making the send-off successful for the students.

“This is just a great moment and it gives the kids a boost of confidence before we leave to head out for the Special Olympics,” Jackson said. “They don’t get those highlights very often where it’s all about them and it’s just a great moment and it gets them so excited.”