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St. Michaels special ed school fundraising for prom, Special Olympics, educational materials

The Gallup Independent - 4/3/2018

ST. MICHAELS, Ariz. ? If anyone knows the needs of students at St. Michaels Association for Special Education, it's social worker Larry Curtis, who has worked at the school since 1979.

Curtis, who started as a teacher's assistant, said the school is having its first Earth Day 5K run and walk at the St. Michael's Catholic Mission baseball field April 22 to raise money for extracurricular activities such as the April 26 prom at Fort Defiance Chapter; the Arizona Special Olympics basketball tournament April 20-21 in Phoenix, the Arizona Special Olympics track and field competition April 12-15 in Phoenix, and the Arizona Special Olympics track and field in Phoenix.

"They train," he said. "Special Olympics is something they work hard for and it's a huge re-enforcement for them to learn to walk, run, throw, do free throws. It's something we take for granted, but for them, it's a lot of work. And when they complete a task, like double dribbling with one hand, it's really rewarding and exciting for them."

Curtis said all the students get involved in prom; the guys purchase their suits and the girls buy prom dresses or use a prom dress that was donated.

He said school staff take the girls to a hair shop to get their hair and nails done.

"A prom is a prom and they are very elegant about it," Curtis said. "It also teaches them to make choices. We have them vote for the prom theme, and this year, it's a masquerade prom."

He said the staff decorate, set up a nice refreshment area with cake, punch and cookies, and send invitations to parents, law enforcement, and the Navajo Nation's titleholders, such as Miss Navajo.

Curtis said Miss Navajo hosts an annual Tip-A-Royalty event with other titleholders to also help raise funds for the school.

He said the Navajo Nation police do the annual Special Olympics Torch Run from Window Rock to Tuba City for the summer games in May and this year, the Navajo Nation police torch run will begin April 28.

Curtis said the school also takes the students out to eat, swimming, to movies, shopping for groceries, and to do small jobs, such as wash windows and pick up trash, which teaches the students about socializing and making choices.

He said the school also has the students gardening, beading, cooking, reading and learning science and math.

Information: Dalinda "Dolly" Cantu, 928-871-2821,

and Larry Curtis, 928-871-2899,


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