Students from throughout the Dublin City School District are expected at the Feb. 2 Coffman Connections Dance.

Students from throughout the Dublin City School District are expected at the Feb. 2 Coffman Connections Dance.

The event is expected to bring together students from different schools and also unite students of different ability levels.

The dance, in its second year, is organized by the Coffman Connections Club and aims to promote typical social interaction among all students.

"We have a DJ, dancing," said Mychal LeCaptain, club adviser.

"We have refreshments from the cooking club and all decorations are made by the art club," she said.

"We usually do a craft activity for people who don't want to dance or need quiet time."

The dance brings typically-developing students together with special needs students.

"I tell parents it's a safe environment for anyone to get the experience of a high school dance without going to a busier one," LeCaptain said.

"It's a safe environment and there are lots of staff. If a kid needs to leave or bring their provider, it's no big deal."

"We decided to put it on because we wanted to give students an opportunity to go to a dance, but not be over stimulated," said Coffman senior and club president Nicole Rule of the inaugural dance last year.

"I describe it as a fun environment for students to feel involved and there's something for everyone. It's quiet enough to sit and talk, but you can dance."

Senior Meg Shockley has been involved with Coffman Connections for four years and said she enjoyed last year's dance more than Homecoming.

"It exceeded expectations," she said. "We tried to make it as much like a real dance as we could."

Shockley and other club members went out to dinner beforehand and carpooled to the dance.

"We had pictures taken to remember the night," she said.

"There was food, games and dancing. We met people from different high schools. I thought it was fun last year and I want it to repeat."

Coffman Guidance Counselor Karen Brothers started Coffman Connections about eight years ago. It was modeled off a peer program she started for the elementary level in her basement 1999.

"It started as peers hanging out with peers," she said. "They helped students who had an extended school year."

While the program has helped the development of special needs students, it has also had an impact on typically-developing students, Brothers said.

"It's inspired me for my plans now and my plans for the future," Shockley said, noting she plans to go into special education or become a behavior specialist.

"I want to work at places that don't have programs like this," she said.

Shockley was involved in the peer program before entering high school and said being involved in the program and Coffman Connections has been wonderful.

"The people I've met here are some of my best friends," she said.

"This is what the students tell me gets them through the day," Brothers said.

Rule said the people have made it worth the work.

"Seeing students have fun doing things that any typical student would do, in a modified way" has kept her in the club, she said.