Student calls out Sandia High yearbook for special needs student group ‘exclusion’

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A student is calling out her high school for a yearbook she says doesn’t feature an important group of students. 

When yearbooks start going out Tuesday for all Sandia High students, they won’t see any dedicated pages for the high school’s various student groups. 

That also means the school’s special needs student group, the Sandia Amigos isn’t specifically featured either. 

While the high school administration says there was “no effort to exclude anyone,” a Sandia High sophomore, Mackenzie Sydow feels the publication’s choice was a hurtful “exclusion.” 

“I think they just needed to be included in everything we do,” said Sydow of special needs students. 

Sydow, who has a brother who is autistic and non-verbal, recently called out the yearbook choice to not specifically include the Sandia Amigos. That group is comprised of the school’s special needs students, who typically work daily with other school students. 

“Children with disabilities don’t get the chance really to really be involved in a lot of things, and I think high school is a really big opportunity for them to be able to be with their peers and be really heard,” said Sydow on the topic of including special needs students in activities with other students. 

Standing up for what she feels is “personal” to her, Sydow recently posted her thoughts on the yearbook’s omission on Facebook. Her post has garnered more than 600 shares and the support of other fellow students. 

“I thought it was really unfair,” said Trinity Budrodeen, a fellow Sandia High sophomore. 

Budrodeen says she was also surprised and disappointed by the move, having worked with the Sandia Amigos group this school year. 

“Knowing that we care about them and that we want them with us and to hang out with us and just support them,” said Budrodeen. 

KRQE News 13 requested an interview with Sandia High administrators about the yearbook Monday but did not hear back. APS district officials provided a statement about the situation after speaking with Sandia High officials. 

Through the district’s communication’s office, the high school’s principal said there was “no effort to exclude anyone” and that “there weren’t any special pages for groups other than sports teams” in this year’s yearbook. 

The school also added that “photos of several groups, including Special Olympics are included in the yearbook,” and that “all students who want(ed) to be included in individual photos are.”

Sydow believes that shouldn’t be an excuse. 

“If they have a spot for sports, they should have a spot for kids with disabilities,” said Sydow of the yearbook. 

Sydow says she plans to meet with the school yearbook teacher Tuesday to talk about the issue, hoping that she might be able to help get the “Sandia Amigos” included in future yearbooks. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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