It was a perfect day for an event outside as Hewlett High School hosted the seventh annual Friendship Games that included special-needs students from Hewlett High, Woodmere Middle School, East Rockaway, Floral Park, Lawrence, Lynbrook and Valley Stream high schools, and Freeport High School and middle school.
Held on May 20 on the school’s football field, it was organized by Hewlett High School’s Leaders Club, that offers special-needs students from across the area the opportunity to take part in a day of outside activities and socialize with each other.
Hewlett High senior students Samantha Panzarella and Jared Lake are the co-presidents of the club, which they have been involved with throughout high school. “This event lets kids interact with each other and make new friends,” Panzarella said. “It’s also more fun than spending a day in the classroom.” The Leaders Club also holds a dance for special-needs students in the fall.
Lake pointed out that there were roughly 120 kids at the Friendship Games this year, double the amount from last year, he said. The activities included: arts and crafts, an obstacle course, a 400-meter walk, long jump, javelin throw and a softball toss. There also was an inflatable slide and an ice cream truck that was funded by the district’s Special Education PTA. “The kids seem more and more happy each year for this event and its great to see,” he said. “They really get excited for the ice cream truck.”
Hewlett High School senior student Dillon Ristano volunteered for the second consecutive year as he worked with the students from Freeport alongside fellow classmates Leah Cummings and Gabriela Sciarrotta. “This was my second year working the Friendship Games and it was such a great experience working with the Freeport students,” Ristano said. “It was exciting to see such a great turnout from all the schools and students in the area.”
Panzarella was happy with how the event went. “The Leader’s Club field day was very successful this year,” she said in a follow-up email. “Leaders did a great job setting up and leading their station or school group and the day went by so smoothly and fast.”