Breaking the boundaries

Freshman Jaclynn Pickens is the first StuGo representative for students with special needs.


Alyssa Peterson

Freshman STUGO representative Jaclynn Pickens.

Kathryn Case, Writer

Freshman Jaclynn Pickens is the first StuGo member representing students with special education needs.

According to IR teacher Robin Hodges, Pickens is very thoughtful and careful with her work and wants to do a good job with everything she works on.

“She has good leadership skills, and we just want to develop those,” Hodges said.

Pickens’ mother, Edie Howard, said she was also a member of StuGo when she was in high school.

“I have fond memories of it and I thought it’d be a chance for [Pickens] to meet more people in high school,” Howard said.

Howard said being involved with StuGo gives her daughter, who has Down syndrome, a leadership and advocacy opportunity that she wouldn’t have otherwise.

Pickens’ role in StuGo is as a representative for the IR classroom. She is a liaison between student government and the IR students, Hodges said. This role in student government is new to the program.

“This is my first year, and I’m blessed to be on StuGo,” Pickens said. “I have the opportunity now to go out in the world and show my abilities and my skills.”

Although Pickens is thrilled to be on student government, she said she was nervous at first.

In order to prepare for her job on student government, Pickens works with Hodges and her mother for the tasks she would need to do, Hodges said. The two of them worked together on making sure her paperwork was turned in, Howard said, assuring her daughter along the way that she had nothing to worry about.

“I said to be confident, and I told her it was OK to be nervous,” Howard said.

According to Hodges, StuGo adviser Sarah Derks welcomed the idea of Pickens being on StuGo.

“[Derks] didn’t even hesitate. She said, ‘Absolutely, we’ll work something out,’” Hodges said. “She is really very accommodating and said, ‘We can have [Pickens’] role be whatever she’s comfortable with. However much involvement she wants, we will work with her on that.’”

Derks said she enjoys working with Pickens and enjoys her hard work.

“I appreciate her enthusiasm and desire to be a part of this organization,” Derks said.

By giving her daughter multiple opportunities, Howard said StuGo is very beneficial to her daughter.  

“I think the more we can get students with disabilities involved in general education activities, it helps them and it helps other people understand how much they have to offer and how they can be a part and serve in general ways as well,” Hodges said.