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Chenery/LABBB Program Gets International Best Buddies Award

Chenery Middle School was recognized by Best Buddies International as the “Outstanding Middle School Chapter” worldwide for the 2015-2016 academic year. The collaborative program with LABBB was awarded during a presentation at the school on November 30 in front of an audience filled with LABBB and Chenery students, school officials, educators and parents.

LABBB Program Coordinator Stephen Goodwin gave opening remarks and introduced Chenery Principal Michael McAllister, “I am proud to be the principal of a school with this kind of dedication and these values,” says McAllister. “Congratulations to you all.” Also speaking was LABBB Executive Director Patric Barbieri who said the Chenery program was the first LABBB Best Buddies chapter, which began in the early 2000’s, and is recognized as the first middle school chapter formed in Massachusetts, “I am honored to receive this award and to be recognized for this collaboration,” Barbieri says. He thanked Sarah Bennett, the LABBB teacher who runs the Best Buddies program, for her leadership and “making the program what it is today”. Best Buddies Regional Representative and Chenery Liaison Ken Francis held up the award plaque to the audience, “There are 313 middle school chapters internationally,” says Francis. “This recognition means that Chenery is the most outstanding middle school chapter in the world”.

The Best Buddies program at the Chenery is run in partnership with the LABBB Collaborative. Best Buddies fosters one-to-one friendships between middle school students and students with special needs. According to the Best Buddies website, the school programs “help to create an inclusive middle school culture for all students early on in their educational development”. The 36 students who attend LABBB at Chenery receive physical and occupational therapy and speech services along with music therapy and inclusion classes in library, art, technology, band, chorus and lunch. There are approximately 80 students total from LABBB and Chenery involved in the program.

Chenery students volunteer to be in the Best Buddies program and are paired with a LABBB student. Other volunteers who are not paired help run stations at student co-planned monthly events and activities, fill in for buddies if they are absent, and enjoy socializing with the LABBB students. The program also participates in events outside of school, such as the Special Olympics and the Best Buddies Football Challenge with NFL Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady.

Bennett says the program received this recognition mainly because of the extraordinary student volunteers, “They are such a caring, dedicated group, and I have truly enjoyed getting to know each of the Chenery students,” says Bennett. “I feel honored that our group was noticed and received such a special award.”

Francis, Bennett, CMS Students  Bennett Plaque  Plaque  Barbieri  Bennett  Goodwin  McAllister  Francis Goodwin  Audience  Cake at Reception