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Students address differences with artwork.

BOYLSTON - Each year, the Berlin/Boylston Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC) sponsors activities to raise awareness about the benefits of inclusive schools. Inclusive schools strive to provide a quality, supportive educational environment for all students, regardless of disabilities, heritage, socio-economic background or gender.

SEPAC invited all elementary school students in Boylston and Berlin to participate in a poster and essay contest and express their thoughts and feelings about this year's theme: "Differences Make Us Unique."

"Grades K-3 made posters, the fourth- through sixth-graders wrote essays and we had a terrific response," Christi Stille, co-president of SEPAC and a Boylston resident.

Entries were collected and displayed at their respective schools.

"It's instant awareness-building," explained Jill Mollica, Berlin co-president. "The kids see the drawings and essays and can immediately relate to the inclusion message, because it was created by their peers, at their level of understanding."

SEPAC Secretary Angela Allred, of Boylston, said when SEPAC asked the schools to participate, there was no hesitation.

"My job as contest coordinator was much easier because the principals, teachers and staff at the schools were so supportive," Allred said. "They encouraged the kids to participate, offered prominent places in the schools for us to display the artwork, and set up recognition events."

Each student received a small gift and a certificate, in appreciation for his or her contributions. The artwork will be on display at the School District offices, 221 Main St. (Hillside), Boylston.

The Special Education Parent Advisory Council is a state-mandated organization in each school district. Its duties include, but are not limited to: advising the districts on matters that pertain to the education and safety of students with disabilities; meeting regularly with school officials to participate in the planning, development, and evaluation of the school district's special education programs. In addition, they support parents and the schools.

More information about the Berlin-Boylston SEPAC can be found at www.sepac-berlin-boylston.org.

Submitted by the Berlin/Boylston Special Education Parent Advisory Council.

ART: PHOTO

PHOTOG: Banner photo/COURTESY JAY GROCIA-ONSITE STUDIOS

CUTLINE: Boylston Elementary poster and essay contest participants are (from left): Olivia Lazoraitis, Michael Groccia, James Groccia, Lenna Doyle, Michelena Mero, Chloe Hays, Katie Edwards, Sam Stille, Ruby Nguyen and Abbie Lemieux. Missing from the photo is Jack Stille.
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Geographic Code:4EUGE
Date:Feb 10, 2011
Words:377
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