MONROVIA – Clifton Middle School special needs students on May 19 modeled tie-dye shirts and glow wigs while snacking on fruit kabobs and cupcakes during a Wacky Tacky party presented by Clifton Cub Academy event planning students.

Balloons, streamers and party favors greeted the students dressed, who spent the afternoon playing Twister, decorating cupcakes, designing T-shirts and fishing for plastic ducks in a wading pool.

“It is very important for all our students to come together and support one another,” Monrovia Unified Board President Bryan Wong said. “I commend the Clifton Cub Academy event planning students for their outreach and inclusiveness, as well as their resourcefulness and imagination. They truly embody the Monrovia Unified spirit of giving back to our community.”

Clifton special education teacher Kiana Turner’s Cub Academy class centers on event planning, with students learning every phase of staging an event – picking a theme, setting a time and date, spreading the word, organizing activities and preparing a budget.

“Students are responsible for all aspects of planning the event,” Turner said. “For the Wacky Tacky party, students organized themselves into specific groups such as publicity, venue and food preparation. Each group has a student head, with one student selected to oversee all the groups.”

Turner’s students begin each event planning activity by brainstorming potential ideas. In April, the students staged a Sports Appreciation party. For their May event, they chose Clifton sixth-grader Sophia Adkins’ concept for a retro party for students with special needs.

Adkins’ classmates took it from there, creating posters and tracking down supplies, and adding personal touches like gift bags with inspirational greetings written on the front and filled with bottled water, pencils and tootsie pops.

The benefits of event planning go beyond merely throwing a party, as students engage in collaborative learning, critical thinking and problem-solving.

“I chose the Wacky Tacky party theme because I am very quirky,” Adkins said. “Being the head of the party brought a lot of responsibilities. You have to be able to fix problems on the spot. It was a lot of fun. My favorite was the tie-dye shirts.”

The Cub Academy – an initiative honored with a California Gold Ribbon – is an intervention program driven by teachers during the last period of the day, when students in need of additional English or math assistance receive special instruction.

All other students can choose from a list of enrichment opportunities, such as athletics, engineering, event planning, cross stitching, astronomy, chess and creative free drawing.

“The Cub Academy is a tremendous success, giving Clifton students the opportunity to explore elective subjects that expand on their personal interests, introducing them to prospective career choices and new friends,” Monrovia Unified Superintendent Dr. Katherine Thorossian said. “Monrovia Unified is committed to supporting education enrichment programs that inspire our students and reinforce the sense of community we see throughout our District.”


060117_MUSD_PARTY1: Clifton Middle School students in the school’s Cub Academy event planning class help their special needs peers decorate cupcakes during their Wacky Tacky party on May 19.

060117_MUSD_PARTY2: A Clifton Middle School student tie-dyes a T-shirt during a Wacky Tacky party on May 19 presented by the school’s Cub Academy event planning class.