High school is a crucial part of a student’s education, but it is also a pivotal social opportunity to connect with peers and get involved in school activities.
At Carlmont, the Reach Out Commission in the Associated Student Body (ASB) strives to make every student feel a part of Carlmont, including the Social Adjustment Class (SAC) and Independent Living Skills (ILS) students. The SAC is the special education program at Carlmont, and ASB includes these students through events like MORP and Reach Out Hangouts.
Jim Kelly, ASB’s activities director, describes the Reach Out Hangout simply as a social function open to all students at Carlmont in which students can eat food and play games.
“It provides a specific opportunity for the SAC students to be here, and it’s gotten to the point now where it’s so popular that they almost don’t fit in the room, which is pretty cool. It just provides different extracurricular activities and helps students feel involved at school,” Kelly said.
Chloe Palarca-Wong, a senior, is one of the members of the Reach Out Commission in ASB and helps run and plan the hangouts.
“I really wanted to do Reach Out because I’m passionate about creating a comfortable environment for everyone at school and making sure everyone gets that high school experience,” Palarca-Wong said.
Kaija Villigrand, a senior, is also a member of the Reach Out Commission. She explained how participating in Reach Out is a gratifying experience, and she recommends that all students should go to one of the hangouts if they can.
“Spending time with them and seeing how much fun they have and how happy it makes them just to have that kind of social interaction is really important to see,” Villigrand said.
The Reach Out Commission organizes these events to unify everyone at Carlmont through food and games. It is common to see students doing crafts or taking pictures in the photo booth as well.
“It just closes the gap between student groups,” Kelly said. “When you bring everybody together, you find out that we’re all the same kind of people, and here’s an opportunity to come together and realize everybody’s got little things in common. You just have to take the time to realize it.”
Kelly was the activities director when the Reach Out Commission first started and has seen it grow tremendously throughout the years.
“When I go to the hangouts, I now just see one big group of teenagers. Everything just gets kind of normalized in one giant gathering. I couldn’t tell you where anyone was from, whether they were a band, journalism, or any other kid. I was just happy to see so many kids there,” Kelly said.
Palarca-Wong also commented on the connection between the students she sees during the Reach Out Hangouts.
“I took a step back, and I just looked around, and it seemed like everyone’s insecurities and boundaries had dropped, and they were all dancing regardless of their background,” Palarca-Wong said.