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Tiger Buddies

Hartselle High students welcome being pals with special needs kids

“They have changed his life” are words Leslie Etheredge uses to describe the positive influence Hartselle High School’s “Tiger Buddies” have had on her 16-year-old son, Kane Etheredge, a HHS student who attends class at the Instructional Resource Center.

“Before Tiger Buddies was organized three years ago, Kane didn’t have the opportunity to socialize with other kids,” she explained. “Now he has 13 buddies. “They talk on the phone and text each other and spend time together going to the movies, bowling or just hanging out.”

“He has really tuned in and become a typical teenager, she added. “His buddies are his treasure. This is one thing Hartselle is really doing well.”

The social club, one of several extra-curricular activities offered at Hartselle High, was organized three years ago with about 80 members, according to sponsor and IRC director LeeAnne Pettey. This year, it boosts a membership of 170, including those students who need a buddy and those who want to be a buddy.

The Hartselle High Library is filled with Tiger Buddies for a club meeting on Friday. | Clif Knight

Membership is open to any student in grades 9-12. There is no charge to join and the only requirement is for each member to have at least one social activity per month with his or her buddy, outside of school and with parental permission. Outings may include attending a ballgame together, going to the movies, visiting a park or playground or eating out at a restaurant.

“Being a Tiger Buddy is a great way to be involved,” said Hartselle High Principal Jeff Hyche. “It doesn’t take a lot of time but it means the world to the students who are involved. It may mean even more to those who are giving than those who are on the receiving end.

“A lot of our athletes choose to be a member of the club as a means of giving something back to their fellow students and the community.

“It has become something the kids want to do,” he added, “and I’m happy that Mrs. Pettey has brought it to the level of success it is enjoying today.”

Alice Anne Glasgow was one of nine Tiger Buddies who met with Kane Etheredge at a club meeting on Friday. | Clif Knight

Club members and their buddies are listed as follows:

Ali Staudt, Savanne Howard, Toby Swims, Keegan Licko, Cady Hensley, John Holt, Cameron Johns, Dakota Goff and James Barnett are buddies of Matt Phillips.

Arin Eddy, Blaine Williams, Bailey Bennich, Robbie Fields, Noah Holladay, Deacon Aldridge, Aaron Lamb, Peyton Patterson, Brittany Duncan, Madison Chambers, Preston Adams, Jackson Smith, Tillman Landers and Hannah Jenkins are buddies of Michael Addie.

Shelby Fowler, Bethany Lane, Shelby Kaup, Dakota Fowler, Tate Mathis, Mason Pettey, Johnston McCutcheon and Benny Brown are buddies of Bryan Payton.

Ginny Edde, Sarah Horner, Jordan Barbrey, Mary Claire Swann, Allie Roden, Katy Beth Bole, Taylor Wascavage, Claire Forsythe, Breanna Martin, Chasity Golden, Lyndsey Little and Lexi Green are buddies of Breanna McDonald.

Jordan Guyse, Hannah Coulter, Sydnee Wiley, Catherine Bodley, Alice Anne Glasgow, Ally Henson, Elyssa Ferguson, Katelyn Bryne, Michaela Greene, Patrick Edmundson, Josh Shelton, Leah Stephenson and Audrey Ann Johns are buddies of Kane Etheredge.

Ross Phillips, seated at left, is shown with Tiger Buddies Sam Harris, seated at right, and Austin Spangler, Todd Gibson and Ryan Brown, standing from left. | Clif Knight

Kaeli Gerstman, Cassie Thomson, Jayla Potts, Amanda Hampton, Jessie O’Neill, Jessi Livingston, Cassidy Haney, Destinee Allen, Mary Elizabeth Gray, Ellen Robinson and Brittany Wunch are buddies of Cheyenne Stapleton.

Megan Smith, Alyssa Appleton, Ally Stephenson, Taylor Barr, Alexa Womack, Kileigh Aldridge, Starla Bunch, Cheyenne Sanchez and Holland Howard are buddies of Alyssa Letson.

Blair Sittason, Tanner Brown, J.W. Jenkins, Jordan Orr, Blake Slayton, Daniel Nicholson and Hunter King are buddies of Cole Haynes.

Madeline Sittason, Ciara Olson, Ginni Rose Smith, Zac Pershin, Emily Craig, Melissa Underwood, Alexandra Williams, Beth Ann Compton, Katie Reece, Brianna Bonner, Kelsey Rae Walling and Jordan Wade are buddies of Brianna Dempsey.

Cheyenne Mullins, Brooke Wilson, Sarah Bunnell, Erin Elledge, Ali Forth, Savannah Morgan, Lindsey Cunningham, Hanna Brown, Mallory Faulkner and Christina Holmes are buddies of David Barrios.

Griffen Steelman, Misty Warren, Vincent Barrios, Denise Sherman, Riley Corum, Jessica Hickerson, Morgan Braun, Polly Glenn and Alyssa Baugh are buddies of Seth Battles.

Katie Glasgow, Kaysha Engle, Sarah B. Crow, Monique Billups, Quanesha Burks, Shayla Alexander, Destinee French, Hannah Hand, Hannah Berry, Sydney Sneed and Alex Smithson are buddies of Larry Byrd.

Haley Jared, Shelby Harris, Taylor Sivley, Jessie Wallace, Kat Blaylock, Jada Hayes, Emily Nix, Hannah Smith, Maggie Tanner and Molly Mayfield are buddies of Haley Copeland.

Kaylon King, Sloan Godsey, Elizabeth Russell, Bailey Adams, Brianna Keown, Megan Rodgers, Shelby Ray, Michaela Cole and Haley Phillips are buddies of Jennifer Roberts.

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