The official student news site of Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough, MA

THE ALGONQUIN HARBINGER

The official student news site of Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough, MA

THE ALGONQUIN HARBINGER

The official student news site of Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough, MA

THE ALGONQUIN HARBINGER

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Friendship Ball promotes inclusivity, connection

Best+Buddies+ambassador+Norah+Shaikh+works+alongside+other+Best+Buddies+members+to+prepare+for+the+Friendship+Ball.
Zoe Manousos
Best Buddies ambassador Norah Shaikh works alongside other Best Buddies members to prepare for the Friendship Ball.

Algonquin’s chapter of Best Buddies will host the 15th annual Friendship Ball, a night of inclusivity, food and music on Friday, March 22.

From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the ARHS cafeteria, students from the Best Buddies chapters of over ten other high schools will join ARHS students for a tropical-themed dance. The event costs 15 dollars for students and is an inclusive space for both students with an intellectual or developmental disability (IDD) and those without an IDD. 

Students look forward to the Friendship Ball every year, as it’s a chance to connect with people with and without IDDs outside of the Algonquin community.

“When I think of Algonquin Best Buddies, I think of the Friendship Ball because that’s our big event that brings so many people together,” senior co-president Lilly Morse said. “Out of all of my dances at Algonquin, the Friendship Ball is one of my top ones because it’s so much fun.”

For both Morse and Best Buddies ambassador Sofia Roumiantsev, the dance is highly anticipated because of the valuable connections formed.

“I’m so excited to see everyone I know because it’s been a long time since I’ve seen them,” Roumiatstev said.

Best Buddies members collaborate on decorations to prepare for the Friendship Ball.

Best Buddies ambassador Norah Shaikh enjoys the dance because it allows her to connect with her buddy, a one-on-one friendship made between a student with an IDD and a student without an IDD in Best Buddies.

“I love getting to know my buddy and finding out about their weekend or their break,” Shaikh said. “I love seeing everyone getting more happy.”

While the event is a lively occasion for attending students, putting together a night of fun for students from so many schools can be difficult.

“The most difficult part of planning the Friendship Ball is definitely all the logistics, and the decorations and the food,” Roumiatstev said. “There’s a lot of schools and you need to balance everything. Some people are gluten-free or intolerant to nuts.”

Best Buddies adviser Caitlin Hynes enjoys seeing the enriching outcomes of the work that goes into planning.

“The planning can be a little stressful because it is our biggest event of the year, but seeing how much fun everyone has is what makes the whole preparation process worth it,” Hynes said.

The event is unique, bringing together schools and Unified Sports teams from the Metrowest area into an enjoyable night for people of different abilities.

“A lot of towns tell us, ‘We don’t know how to run a dance that’s inclusive like this,’ and we took a risk on it,” Best Buddies adviser Kevin Hausmann said. “Student leaders from many years ago didn’t like that their friends had trouble going to Algonquin semi-formals, Winter Balls and proms, so they wanted to have a dance that made everyone feel comfortable.”

Student leaders from many years ago didn’t like that their friends had trouble going to Algonquin semi-formals, Winter Balls and proms, so they wanted to have a dance that made everyone feel comfortable.

— Best Buddies adviser Kevin Hausmann

By advocating for inclusivity, the Friendship Ball set an example for other school dances such as prom, Winter Ball and the freshman orientation dance to add safer spaces for a more diversely abled group of students.

“We didn’t use to see school dances be inclusive, but now they are,” Hausmann said.

Senior Co-president Zoe Manousos believes that the lack of exclusion established for the Friendship Ball can be attributed to the care taken to make people feel comfortable.

“In the corner we have cornhole set up and we have face paint,” Manousos said. “Then there’s an alternate activities room for people who are more sensitive to lights and sounds.”

As many of the students look forward to the Friendship Ball, some students are sad to see their final Friendship Ball come this year. Roumiantsev has been in the Community Access Program (CAP) for over six years, and she will attend her last Friendship Ball this Friday before aging out of the program in April.

“I’ve connected with people I met at the Friendship Ball over text and FaceTime,” Roumiantsev said. “It’s wonderful being able to see everyone before I age out of CAP.”

Members of Best Buddies are looking forward to the event and seeing everyone excited to be there.

“It’s really fun to be a part of something that makes students so happy,” Hynes said.

View Comments (4)
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A donation of $40 or more includes a subscription to the 2023-24 print issues of The Harbinger. We will mail a copy of our fall, winter, spring and graduation issues to the recipient of your choice. Your donation supports the student journalists of Algonquin Regional High School and allows our extracurricular publication to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

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About the Contributors
Jax Jackson
Jax Jackson, Sports Editor
Zoe Manousos
Zoe Manousos, Managing Editor
Zoe took journalism in freshman year and enjoyed it, so she decided to apply to be on the Editorial board. Ever since then, she's been an assistant sports editor up until this year, where she's transitioning to be the A&E editor. When Zoe was in middle school, she used to see copies of the Harbinger around her house and was always interested in writing for the school paper!
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Comments (4)

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  • M

    Mackenzie GliddenMar 21, 2024 at 6:19 pm

    Can Shrewsbury high students go to this event

    Reply
  • M

    Mackenzie gMar 21, 2024 at 6:02 pm

    Can Shrewsbury high students go to this

    Reply
  • N

    Norah ShaikhMar 21, 2024 at 4:29 pm

    thank you Jax for interviewing me and sofia

    Reply
  • M

    Mr. HausmannMar 21, 2024 at 12:18 pm

    Jax, thanks to you and the Harbinger staff for a compelling article including many student voices. -Mr. Hausmann

    Reply