Transition Plus hosts spring dance

Park special education program attends Spring Fling

Used with permission from Alaina Martin
Special education students and teachers pose for a photo during a Spring Fling dance May 12 during the school day. Transition Plus, a special needs program for ages 18-21, hosted the dance.

Senior Jose Velez Otero said he enjoyed the spring dance hosted by Transition Plus at Cedar Manor May 12 because he enjoyed dancing and eating junk food with his friends.

Developmental cognitive disabilities teacher Alaina Martin said Transition Plus, a post-high school program that provides services to students within the special education program until the age of 21, hosted the spring dance to give students within special education programs the opportunity to have a fun time and meet new people.

“Our students went (to Cedar Manor) for a dance that (Transition Plus) was hosting. Transition Plus is made up of students from Minnetonka, Hopkins and St. Louis Park,” Martin said.  “Twice a year they have dances that they invite the high schoolers to, and it’s a fun get together, they get to see their old classmates they were with in previous years, eat some pizza and hang out.”

Special education teacher Christine Tvrdik said Transition Plus began hosting a Halloween costume dance and a Spring Fling dance last year.

“We used to attend a special needs prom. Wayzata High School organized it for all the Metro high schools to go to, but I think it got kind of expensive, and it was just a lot of organization so they stopped that, and then Transition Plus decided to do this,” Tvrdik said.

According to Tvrdik, the dance provides students with the opportunity to reconnect with friends currently in the Transition Plus program. Tvrdik said the dance fosters introductions between current high school students and other students and future teachers within the Transition Plus program.

“(The dance is) just a little bit of less structured time that they can hang out and be social, have fun with friends and meet some new people,” Tvrdik said. “They also get to meet their teachers that they are going to have next year so it’s also a chance for the teachers to see some of the kids that they’re going to be having next year.”

Martin said the special education program brings paraprofessional educators along with them to the dance, but otherwise there are no parent chaperones.

“I think it’s a good opportunity for them to be with their friends in a social area because sometimes they don’t go to the homecoming dances or those kinds of things so it’s an opportunity for them to dance and have fun with their friends,” Martin said.

Martin said many of the students who graduate from the special education program within Park will move on to Transition Plus.

“(Transition Plus) is really focusing on independent living skills, employment skills, and leisure skills, just basically being able to be as independent as possible,” Martin said.