Cool Kid is Best Buddy to many

LONG BEACH, Calif. Cool Kid /*Emily Pelonis*/ is president of /*Best Buddies*/, an organization that matches up special-needs students with general education students at /*Millikan Senior High School*/ in Long Beach. But these are not pairings taken lightly.

We'll put the kid that wants to be in the movies with the drama student, we'll put the kid in the jazz band with another jazz band student," said Emily. "They're not just starting out with nothing in common."

These special students not only get a friend, but also someone who can teach them valuable life lessons.

"They learn you don't hug a person 12 times in 10 seconds, you don't stand two inches from their face, you don't talk so loud, and they really learn ways to fit in more," said Emily.

Under her direction, the club has increased from six to more than 100 members. Her leadership skills indicate a bright future.

"I see her becoming a senator, a United Nations leader," said Best Buddies advisor Dina Weinberg. "She is brilliant as well as kind."

No matter the direction of that future, Emily is certain to continue helping her special friends.

"If the college I go to doesn't have a Best Buddies, I want to start it there," said Emily. "Some colleges do have it. It starts in middle school then goes to college, then an e-mail buddy if you don't have time, or a citizen buddy after college."

Making sure high school is a place where every student feels included, she is our Cool Kid, Emily Pelonis.

Best Buddies International

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