Inside Integrated Wellness

Take a look behind this welcoming club


Kayla Wisneski

Integrated Wellness class just might be the most fun class in school.

Sophie Lawson, Staff writer

Every Friday at exactly 12:05 p.m., the intensely anticipated Integrated Wellness matball game begins.

Scout-blue colored mats are situated in each corner of the gymnasium creating the runner’s path, with an addition of a yellow colored ball for the batters to kick and the fielders to catch. One tight-knit class splits into two teams. Coach Spagnoli never disappoints to come up with the most unique and weirdly pleasing team names to amp up the class competitiveness. 

Grace Donnellan making a triangular shape with three colored pool noodles

The scuffling sounds of shoes moving against the gymnasium floor and boisterous cheers inflate the game’s energetic aesthetic. Student buddies and students in special education go head-to-head to bring home the matball win. 

Matball is only one of the fun activities the class of Integrated Wellness takes part in. From the off-campus walks around the track and to the integrated “troll bridge” to inquisitive scavenger hunts to continuous team building exercises, there’s never a dull moment. For a more in-depth look check out the Integrated Wellness 2021 Halloween Highlights Mattball Game.

A simple task like throwing a ball or playing an adaptation of tag called “Got you last” works wonders in building up students’ cognitive and physical abilities. It also helps strengthen the special bonds and friendships that formulate between student buddies and special education students.

Everyone in the class wants to be there to form new relationships, help others, and learn new things, which makes the class so amazing, ” said junior and Integrated Wellness TA Brendan Arch. “Every activity is exciting.” 

Conversations about weekends, favorite things, and pets is the first spark that lights these strong bonds. High fives and secret handshakes are exchanged, while students’ make funny remarks and quirks to complete this lively class circle. “It wouldn’t feel right without Grace Donnellan saying “Come on!” all the time, or Sam Ma’s attendance shenanigans,” said Senior and Integrated Wellness TA Kayla Wisneski. 

TA Mary Rylance and Jack Clark. Captured by Kayla Wisneski

Everyone, despite their mental and physical limitations, build secure and genuine connections “inside and outside of school,” said senior and TA Ashleigh Rupprecht. Learning to celebrate people’s differences while making them feel included and of importance is what this class is all about.

Since 2004, Integrated Wellness has provided students in special education with an outlet to show their abilities in a positive environment where they feel comfortable, while also incorporating learning opportunities to improve social and communicative skills. 

Each week, students in special education are paired with Integrated Wellness student buddies (TA’s) participating in various indoor and outdoor activities. These activities retain a split focus to create a fun-loving, tight-knit atmosphere, while also inputting opportunities to learn and execute taught practices.

The exterior of Integrated Wellness appears to be a class solely focused on the education of students in special ed.

Emerson Donahue and TA Talia Prozument. Captured by Kayla Wisneski

Even though the majority of the class is about their improvement, the upperclassmen student buddies also receive opportunities to learn and grow, too. 

Coming into the class, I was very shy,” said senior and TA Eva Sharman. “It’s a class where everyone has plentiful opportunities to get involved and be heard, so overtime my confidence rapidly increased throughout the class.”

 Students learn new life skills and uncover realizations about themselves that can’t be taught in a science or math classroom setting. These realizations are found by learning and the way everyone learns is from each other. 

“Our buddies teach us just as much, if not more, then we are teaching them” Arch said.

Mr. Spagnoli is the conductor behind this well-oiled Integrated Wellness machine, encouraging all his integrated students to break past their social and physical

Coach Spagnoli and his Halloween look-alike TA Anthony Giannelli. Captured by Kayla Wisneski

insecurities so they are free to simply enjoy the class for what it is.

“I enjoy working with the most diverse and generous group of students,” said Mr. Spagnoli. “I love to teach this class because of the relationships that I get to witness being formed.”  

Integrated Wellness welcomes compassionate students that enhance the harmony this class creates. 

“Students who feel the desire to cultivate sincere relationships with other students that are of diverse backgrounds are perfect for this class,” said Mr Spagnoli. “Being open and allowing yourself to feel that temporary discomfort can lead to a much more rewarding experience.”