Best Buddies builds budding bonds that leave behind brilliant friendships


Senior Emily Ray and Kyle Kilgore play Connect Four during their free time in Maggie Cooper’s class (Photo by Olivia Lighty).

Olivia Lighty, Online Editor

Like any student who joins a club, members of Best Buddies join because of the friendships and the connections they make outside the classroom, according to sponsor Maggie Cooper.

Best Buddies president, junior Andrea Alvarez said the club is an organization that promotes inclusion for people with an intellectual developmental disability. However, to most of the students, Best Buddies is more than just a club. It gives members a chance to make new friends and have wholesome high school memories while also helping develop life skills, such as communicating with other people.

According to Cooper, Best Buddies allows her students to make new friendships and be apart of a high school club. “A lot of my students, this is the only classroom they see unless it’s the Falcon Cafe. Unless I can pull kids in here, they don’t get that social interaction with peers, like just walking through the hallways, standing in line at lunch, or walking out to the bus.”

Cooper believes Best Buddies has helped her students communicate better with other peers as well as gives her students a friend they can see outside of school.

A member of Best Buddies and one of Cooper’s students, senior Emily Ray has been in Best Buddies all four years of high school. Ray said being in Best Buddies has taught her “how to be a good friend.”

This year, Ray is learning how to be a good friend to her buddy, Alvarez. Together, the two go to football games and theater productions. Ray, grinning from ear to ear, explains that she got to help Alvarez manage the basketball team during their season last year.

Senior Cole Knoblett, also a four year member of Best Buddies, feels that Best Buddies has given him a new perspective on how he sees other people as well as himself.

“I think it has made me a much more tolerable person. It’s allowed me to see different perspectives for different people and not just be so stuck in my own frame of mind that I don’t get to see beyond what my eyes see.”

Together, Knoblett and his buddy senior Dylan Reed have bonded over their love of wrestling and video games. Knoblett, who states that Reed and he became friends instantly, enjoys hanging out with Reed outside of school.

“We really like to go bowling a lot, he’s a better bowler than I am, I’ll admit that. I like to take him to get ice cream sometimes, and we both really like movies a lot.”

Reed, a one-year member of Best Buddies, feels that Best Buddies has helped him “better communicate with other people.” Reed said that his favorite quality about his buddy is being able to talk to Knoblett about different games that they have in common. However, after Reed graduates he states that he will miss his classmates and his friends that he’s made in the club and in class.

As for Ray, she will miss being in the Homecoming parades each year because she loves to hand out her favorite candy: Skittles.