A Blizzard Bash: Leadership class throws party for West Wing

Abby Hendrickson, Staff Writer

By Abby Hendrickson

The students of the West Wing entered into the once plain atrium, now decorated to serve as a personalized winter wonderland. Twinkling blue snowflakes accompanied with sparkling white tinsel bordered the perimeter of the room, indicating the theme of the party (which was blizzard bash).

The leadership class at PA recently threw a winter-themed party for the students in the West Wing during second block on Jan. 30. This was the second event they organized for the West Wing kids, with the first being in late autumn. Senior Tanner Drew describes the prior theme saying, ““We had done a Halloween-themed one in October and the West Wing kids really liked it, so they asked us to do another one.”

The students involved in the leadership class worked to include the lesson material into the aspects of cooperation this task required. “A lot of the hard work was done in the month leading up to it… I would say Mrs Karunaratne was a big part of helping us just get it all together, but as a leadership class, we really focused on having different people in charge of different things in order to learn the leadership skills we had been reviewing in class,” said leadership class junior Brady Callahan. 

Focusing on the integration of the lessons, delegation was clearly apparent in the division of responsibilities among their peers. “We had six different committees: one for photobooth, three for the three different games, and then two for crafts. So, we spent like two weeks figuring out materials and who was going to bring what,” said Drew. 

Their hard work resulted in multiple activities that served as a source of entertainment for kids of all functioning levels. According to leadership class teacher Ashley Karunaratne, there were three games, two art projects, and a photobooth. “At the art station, there were two different crafts they could do,” said Karunaratne. “There was one where they made a hat and they glued cotton balls on it, and they wrote their names and decorated it with sharpies. The other one was where we had pipe cleaners and beads that we had already pre-made by twisting the pipe cleaners together, so they just put their beads on it.”

Karunaratne added that the kids could win various small prizes (such as pencils and erasers) from one game that “had like a big bin with water and ducks, and on the bottom of the ducks there were numbers.” Those numbers determined what (if any) prize was won. But every student goes home with a prize. 

In addition to this game, there was one activity that consisted of plastic cups being stacked in a pyramid formation. The objective was to throw large balls at the pyramids and knock them down, resulting in a loud ruckus that spread excitement throughout the room. 

The third game involved large buckets that the kids got to try and shoot balls into. 

“We try to make the games simple for their ability levels,” said Karunaratne. 

This event did not come about without its fair share of difficulties. According to Callahan, the main obstacle the students faced when organizing the event was ensuring all activities could accommodate a variety of skill levels. “The hardest part [was] getting games that could be adapted to all abilities, and also just finding things that would be interesting to everyone.”

The leadership class attests that their difficulties were worth it when they saw the reactions of all the kids who were enjoying the results of their careful planning. Callahan described the general reactions of these kids saying, “Our friends in the west wing were just very excited. There were a lot of tossing ball games, so it was just so much fun for them to have the things crash. I think it was fun because we had prizes so they got to win something, and there were just smiles all around.”

The inspiration behind this event stemmed from the general exclusion kids in the West Wing usually face. Drew detailed this separation by saying, “They do not always have opportunities to interact with people who aren’t in the West Wing, so it is important that we interact with them and make sure they feel included.”