School Board hears about impressive achievements

Photo by Libby Johnson RLHS students Sarah Johnson, Chad Newton, and Brittany Hodges make pizzas at Pizano’s Pizza as a monthly activity with LIFTT (Living Independently for Today and Tomorrow).

 

Red Lodge High School (RLHS) Special Education teacher, Libby Johnson and K-8 Special Ed. Department have made major strides in helping their students become more involved within the community and extracurricular activity. On March 20, Johnson presented to the Red Lodge Board of trustees a glimpse of the many achievements the Special Ed. Department has done to date.

After receiving a grant for $29,200 from Parents Let’s Unite for Kids (PLUK), Johnson explained they were able to buy nine laptops, two PowerPoint’s, six iPads, and six iPod touches for the department. Further, the money allowed her to take families to the Youth in Transition Conference, where Johnson and RLHS student, Sabrina Morgan spoke to educators about ways to help youth transition and become more involved with the community.

Johnson was also able to bring five students to Red Lodge Mountain to ski with Eagle Mount from the Bright Ideas grant, which eventually evolved into a Special Olympics program. 
“For the first time this year, in partnership with Eagle Mount and Special Olympics, Red Lodge formed a ski team consisting of two athletes from Red Lodge (Sarah Johnson and Molly Heinen).” Johnson explained, that “Sarah made the trip to Moonlight Basin (Big Sky Area Winter Games) on her own, finishing 2nd in the intermediate level of ski racing.”
In addition to skiing with Eagle Mount, Sarah was featured as March’s Emerging Leader for the Rural Institute Transition and Employment Projects, whose interview was posted on the organization’s website.

Heinen also won 1st place at the Carbon County Arts Guild show. 
Because transportation is an issue, Johnson recently helped organize a Real Life Fair that hosted various support services under one roof. Families from the county were invited to visit with special needs service providers who distributed information about various youth transition programs. 
To help students become more active in the community, Johnson and the group Living Independently for Today and Tomorrow (LIFTT) have been successful in planning monthly activities for adolescent teens and young adults with disabilities, including bowling at Silver Strike and pizza making at Pizano’s Pizza.

“A lot of these kids are going to stay in the community and it’s important they are involved in different activities,” Johnson said. 
As spring kicks in, Johnson plans to take three students from Red Lodge, two from Roberts, and one from Joliet to compete at the Yellowstone Valley Area Spring Games, held in Billings on April 26 - 27. The competitions include: bowling, power lifting, gymnastics, cycling, aquatics, track and field, bowling, and aquatics. Following the events, a dinner and dance are held Saturday evening.