Peers Are Linking Students

Kyle Soto, Staff Writer


  • Connect students with disabilities and general education students
  • Create and foster friendships


  • Meets on the second Tuesday of every month during all three lunches in room 845
  • Anyone can join


  • Jodi Christensen
  • Shannon Gagliano
  • Laura Harbin
  • Cindy Hartpence
  • Colleen Petty
  • Julia Wright

Peers Are Linking Students is an organization that helps create opportunities and activities for students with special needs. PALS was created 10 years ago by teachers working in the Special Education department who saw a lack of communication between those with special needs and those without.

“We started with meetings and food to get people to come,” Hartpence said. “It really took off. We had over 300 students that were interested in participating.”

For the first few years Hartpence and Gagliano were the only teachers involved in PALS but the club soon added more teachers due to the sheer size of the program. PALS meets once a month in Harpence’s room during lunch. They also host a breakfast once a month and aim to hold two events each month, which may include going to sporting events at the Mill, going bowling, or going to the movies.

Five years ago, Hartpence received an invitation to speak about PALS at a conference where she presented the PALS organization to other school systems who have since started their own PALS programs.

The big highlight of this year was the PALS Pageant held at the Mill which allowed students with special needs to showcase their talents and have fun. 

“There were a lot of kids that moved into Starr’s Mill as 9th graders and didn’t know anybody,” Hartpence said. “We really foster friendship inside and outside of school.”