Wednesday, January 23, 2002

Horizons to be expanded

Students to visit Texas dude ranch in March

By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer Contributor

        UNION — At Ryle High School, nine students with disabilities and 14 peer tutors are planning a trip to a dude ranch near San Antonio in March. It would be the first time many of the children have so much as seen a horse or airplane.

[photo] Students in a multihandicapped class work with peer tutors. From left are Tyler Gamm, Crystal Everett, Angela Treadway, Laren Zapp, Gerri Quinlan, Amanda Hrenya, Jeremiah Parr, Jenna Murray and Kevin Maher.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
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        “I think it'll be pretty cool,” said Kevin Maher, a 17-year-old sophomore.

        But here's the challenge: the class has to come up with about $18,000 by Feb. 23. So far, there's about $9,000 in the bank.

        “I have faith we'll do it,” said Dana Vice, 18, a Ryle senior and peer tutor.

        Ann Fillmore, the multiple-handicaps teacher at Ryle, said the students and three teacher aides will begin the journey to the Flying L Guest Ranch in Bandera, Texas, (about 40 miles northwest of San Antonio) March 27 and return home March 30.

        She talks as if the trip is a done deal.

        “We've made a lot of contacts,” Ms. Fillmore said. “We've had a lot of commitments.”

        Ms. Fillmore came up with the idea in October. She took pictures and wrote a script for a videotape that she shows to potential contributors.

Ann Fillmore
Ann Fillmore
        Ms. Vice has made numerous calls and sent countless e-mails to local businesses. She even sent one to the country music group Alabama.

        Delta Air Lines has kicked in discounted tickets.

        To prepare for the trip, the students and tutors have studied Texas geography and history. They've sold doughnuts and watermelon slices and made greeting cards, flower pot decorations, and Easter eggs attached to dowel rods.

        “I'm an arts-and-crafts person anyway,” said Deondra Arrowood, a junior tutor from Walton.

        There are other places closer to Union than Texas to ride horses — The Dude Ranch in Morrow, Ohio, is one — but Ms. Fillmore worries her students may never have the chance to travel so far again.

        Besides, she said, there's an educational component. The Flying L is ideal for students to experience the sights, sounds and smells of a ranch.

        “Our kids' curriculum deals with sensory issues,” she said.

        Dale Adams, director of disability services at Northern Kentucky University, said there are emotional and social benefits, too.

        “I would think that it would open up a lot of opportunities just to get out and experience things,” Mr. Adams said. “They could develop some self-reliance.”

        In Texas, each tutor will be paired with a student. Deondra said the tutors will learn an important social skill themselves: “I think you have to have a lot of patience,” she said.

        The class is still a long way from boarding a plane, but one student, 17-year-old Jeremiah Parr, said he knows what he'll take on the flight.

        “I've got Uno (a card game) in my book bag,” he said.

        To contribute, send donations to Ryle High School MH Room, 10379 U.S. 42, Union KY 41091. Information: (859) 384-5300.

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