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Special education pupils practice life skills

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NORTH AUGUSTA --- For a group of special education pupils at two elementary schools, a Christmas shopping trip Thursday was as much about learning as it was about fun.

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Special Education students from Mossy Creek Elementary and North Augusta Elementary toured Kroger and Dollar Tree Thursday morning in North Augusta.  Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Special Education students from Mossy Creek Elementary and North Augusta Elementary toured Kroger and Dollar Tree Thursday morning in North Augusta.

The field trip gave the Mossy Creek and North Augusta elementary schools pupils a chance to practice social skills they would need later in life, said one teacher.

"It's exposure to the community and things they'll be doing when they grow up," said Kelley Kirkland, the special education teacher at North Augusta Elementary. "We start them on the process of exploring the community and the different things they can do like grocery shopping, buying presents and eating at restaurants."

Pupils first went to Kroger, where they were guided through the aisles of food, ending at the candy aisle. North Augusta Elementary pupils with their teachers helped sift through bags of candy to pick out decorations for gingerbread houses they will make next week at school.

Mossy Creek's pupils bought sugar cookies and icing to make Christmas cookies.

Next they hit the Dollar Tree, the highlight of the day for many pupils.

"I got a toy, a sword and a screwdriver," said Cameron Landrum, 10. He bought one present for a classmate and shopped for his family.

Pupils went through the cash register and practiced counting out money and handing it to the cashier. They also learned to wait for their change.

Heather Herrmann, the special education teacher at Mossy Creek, said the outing was a chance for pupils to practice what they learn in the classroom.

"To practice their self-help skills in the community, their social skills and just for a fun trip for them," Mrs. Herrmann said.

The trip was part of the community-based instruction special education pupils begin learning in elementary school.

"It will just become more involved and they'll take more trips," Mrs. Kirkland said. "Eventually when they get to high school they'll start to work in the community. They'll take jobs during the school time."

The trip ended with a visit to Chick-fil-A, where pupils had to decide what they wanted to eat and then pay for it.

Mrs. Kirkland said she loves to take her pupils into the community, and believes it's a good learning experience for them. Fourteen pupils went on the combined schools field trip.

"It may look like chaos to an outsider, but for us it's just another day," she said.

Reach Crystal Garcia at (706) 823-3409 or

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