With open bowling lanes and just a handful of people, the Weber State Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) welcomed their new students Wednesday to the organization during their open house.

The open house began at 6:30 p.m., where students interested in the CEC played a round or two of bowling at the Wildcat Lanes.

“Our club here tonight is comprised of those students who wanted to come and are seeking to get involved with the CEC,” said Shirley Dawson, adviser for the Weber State CEC.

At the open house, students interested in the CEC program mingled and discussed new plans for the upcoming year.

For senior Melissa Wood, the open house allowed her to get out of the classroom and into a fun environment to interact with people interested in special education and CEC.

“I got to know my classmates better,” Wood said.

9-17 WSU Student Council For Exeptional Children (Ariana Berkemeier)  (3 of 6)
CEC co-president Michael Leishman plays a round of bowling at the CEC open house on Wednesday. The event gave students a chance to have fun, as well as plan the upcoming year. (Source: Ariana Berkemeier/The Signpost)

According to Dawson, the CEC is the premier association for children with disabilities.

Not only is it a Weber State organization, but it’s grown to be the largest international organization devoted to students with exceptionalities and disabilities.

“The CEC at Weber State aims to help these exceptional individuals with their educational experience,” said Dawson, who has been a member of the CEC since she started her career as a public educator.

According to Dawson, Weber State CEC has a degree program called mild to moderate where they work with students with less severe disabilities.

“They’re (exceptional students) still in a regular classroom but just need a certain amount of attention from different teachers and advisers,” said Michael Leishman, co-president for the Weber State Council for Exceptional Children.

According to Leishman, these advisors help exceptional students with their education throughout the year, with tutoring and academic advice.

The CEC not only focuses on education but also provides service hours to the community and hosts events for exceptional students on campus.

The main event this year is the annual Halloween Dance that welcomes all young exceptional students aged 19 to 30 to come and get to know each other.

“We always set up the decorations with (the exceptional students) and then dance with them, and it’s a place where they can also invite their families,” Leishman said.

Running throughout the year, the CEC will host an array of meetings, parties and open houses all geared to help bring attention to their organization.

For the CEC Wildcats, raising money and awareness will be their primary goals for this year.

Leishman hopes these events will also bring in students who are interested in the CEC, especially those in other education programs.

“We just want more people to have more awareness of what you can do to take care of students with disabilities,” Leishman said.

9-17 WSU Student Council For Exeptional Children (Ariana Berkemeier)  (5 of 6)
Shirley Dawson, CEC advisor, works with other members during the open house at Wildcat Lanes. The CEC hopes to raise money and awareness for students with disabilities.(Source: Ariana Berkemeier/ The Signpost)

Along with open houses and meetings, fundraisers will also take place throughout the year to help raise money for CEC members to attend their annual conference.

This year the conference will take place in San Diego on April 8 and will take four days.

“At the conference, members of the CEC will learn new, cutting-edge techniques to help teach students with disabilities,” said Dawson.

Former CEC President Aimee Bennett said the national CEC conference is the highlight of the year.

Not only does the conference show them new ways to teach exceptional students, but it also allows for CEC members to collaborate with other like-minded people, according to Bennett.

“I feel like I learn so much just by going to the national conferences,” Bennett said. “I just love the involvement.”

With all the new plans for the upcoming year, CEC members still find time to appreciate why they joined the organization in the first place.

“I love seeing the students grow. I love that I can mean something to someone and be that person that can figure them out,” said Wood. “I just love helping them.”

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