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M-PHS students hold fundraising dinner May 19 to help work with special needs kids

Marketing students at Marysville-Pilchuck High School will be holding a fundraising dinner and auction May 19 to support their work with special needs students.  From left are M-PHS juniors Amanda Layton, Brent Castano, John Williams and Caitlin Chew. -
Marketing students at Marysville-Pilchuck High School will be holding a fundraising dinner and auction May 19 to support their work with special needs students. From left are M-PHS juniors Amanda Layton, Brent Castano, John Williams and Caitlin Chew.
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MARYSVILLE Students at Marysville-Pilchuck High School are holding their annual spring benefit dinner May 19 to fund their ongoing efforts to work with special need students.
Juniors in the M-P marketing courses have been taking their peers in the Life Skills department for a ride: sometimes to the Woodland Park Zoo, sometimes to the Seattle Aquarium. The annual dinner is how they help pay for the events that mean a lot to the special needs population. The DECA students have hosted a Christmas party for the special needs kids in the past and hope to expand their involvement.
Ashley Tautfest is one of the ringleaders in the enterprise and she said the goal is to have about 300 people attend the dinner, silent auction and music and magic performances.
Im excited because I think its going to be great, Tautfest said.
She said working with the special needs kids at the Christmas party was an eye-opener and gave her a much richer perspective on life. Many of the students in the Life Skills program dont get out much and cant participate in many of the social events on campus. Some are in wheelchairs, others need constant attention from caregivers. So the DECA students decided to bring the holidays to them, creating a sleigh from plywood and colored paper, as well as a faux fireplace and a Christmas tree with presents and everything. For life skills teacher Stan Bechtol just the effort meant a lot to his students.
It started with a pizza party years ago and has progressed from there, according to Bechtol, who said the students in Jim Pankiewiczs marketing class paid for the presents, decorations and even brought in a Santa Claus. Many students from the general population dont even want to have anything to do with his students, Bechtol acknowledges, making the DECA students gift even more precious.
They are just a great group of kids, Bechtol said. They dont seem to care whether they work with these students on not. They become automatic buddies and nobody else does.
In the 17 years he has worked in the M-P Life Skills Center Bechtol said the work the DECA students do is one of the highlights for him as a teacher, and it means much more to the special needs kids.
They get a feeling that theres somebody there that really likes them that somebody is a friend, Bechtol said. It just gives them a buddy, cause some people dont want them as friends.
The fundraising dinner will help provide more outings for the Life Skills students, with the DECA students as chaperones and friends. The event cost $25 for adults and $12 for kids 12 and under. The dinner will be held in the cafeteria, the silent auction in the Tomahawk Activities Center and the music and magic performances in the auditorium. One of the areas best cover bands The Penguins are the main attraction.
They pretty much play any genre of music, Tautfest said.
The annual spring benefit dinner and auction will be held May 19, 5 p.m. at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, 5611 108th St. NE. For more information, call the school at 360-653-0600.

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