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New CDC room unveiled with ribbon cutting

Thanks to an in-house renovation project at Fayetteville High School, special education students now have facilities to give them greater access to the general education curriculum, including work-based learning opportunities.

“Previously, we had CDC facilities at Ralph Askins School and Fayetteville Middle, so this allows high school students to be served at the high school,” said Christine Tuten, special education supervisor for Fayetteville City Schools.

The school’s former computer lab and ISS room were renovated and repurposed to accommodate the CDC classroom.

“We converted the two rooms into one large classroom to facilitate the PAES (Practical Assessment Exploration System) lab,” she noted.

The PAES lab exposes students to a broad range of hands-on, generalizable work skills, better preparing them for community work experiences, future employment and independent life. Participants clock in and go to work exploring nearly 300 jobs in five career areas – business marketing, computer technology, construction industrial, processing production and consumer service.

“The PAES lab gives them hands-on assessments of employment potential so it allows them to work on their job skills,” Tuten said. “Now they have space for that.”

When students work on jobs in the PAES lab, they earn money, which they can then spend in the classroom store.

The newly-designed classroom has a kitchen to allow students to work on life skills, such as cooking. Students also learn to do laundry now that they are being served at the high school where laundry facilities are located.

“They have some sensory areas too for sensory breaks,” Tuten said of the new CDC classroom. “There is a swing, crash pad, weighted blankets and weighed vests available, things they can use to help calm down when they need a break.”

The CDC classroom is located at the rear of the school building, allowing for easy access for bus pick-up and drop-off with accessibility for students using wheelchairs.

There is also an area just outside the classroom where students can wash cars, an activity they will do, along with baking, to raise funds for materials and items needed in the classroom.

Students celebrated in their new classroom recently, hosting a ribbon cutting and visit from school board members and system leaders. The students baked cookies and muffins with their typical peer mentors, and those were served during the ribbon cutting celebration.

“I want to express my appreciation to Mr. (Bill) Hopkins and the school board for supporting this vision and making decisions in the best interest of our students,” Tuten said. “I’d also like to thank Mr. (Eric) Jones and Mr. (Jeff) Bryant and the maintenance team for their hard work in making this happen. We didn’t contract this out at all; they did all the work in converting the space.

“I really appreciate being part of a team that shares my vision for meeting the needs of all students,” she added.

Check out photo highlights here

students and staff cutting red ribbon