Life Skills Apartment for special education students opens at local high school

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RED LION, Pa. (WHTM) – A high school in York County has a brand-new apartment on campus. Students don’t live in it, but it will help some students learn to live on their own.

“I feel like I’m part of the school,” said Nicole Markel, a 17-year-old senior. “We wash the dishes. We do the bed. We vacuum.”

What Markel is describing isn’t a home economics class. It’s the Life Skills Apartment for special education students at Red Lion Area Senior High School. Students learn real-life and vocational skills, and many of them work in the community.

“I go to daycare and the pumpkin patch and clean the tables after lunch, and I help with snacks,” 18-year-old Chevelle Kling said.

“I help the kids read. I play with them. I give them high fives, and they love me,” Markel said with a giggle.

Some of the kids also work at Subway, including Markel.

“The goal of the class is of course to build independence, to build that level of confidence, so hopefully by the time they turn 21, we can incorporate some type of work environment into their life beyond school,” said Denise Wagner, life skills support teacher at Red Lion Area Senior High School.

Doing dishes is one of the many life skills students learn in the class. It’s become so popular, Dallastown and York City School Districts have taken notice and are considering starting their own apartments.

Red Lion’s apartment is much more than just learning how to set a table or make a bed for the students. It’s a path to their futures, and many of them already have goals for it.

“I love kids. Hopefully I’ll be a daycare worker or assistant,” Kling said.

“I want to college or the York Hospital and work with the kitchen. I want to be a pastry chef,” Markel said.

The Life Skills Apartment was made possible through donations in memory of teacher Carrie Smeltzer, the Home Depot, and Ashley Furniture.Get breaking news, weather and traffic on the go. Download our News App and our Weather App for your phone and tablet.

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