Skip To Main Content

Logo Image

Rockwood School District

Logo Title

LaSalle Springs, Pond Earn Best Buddies Missouri Chapter of the Year Awards

LaSalle Springs, Pond Earn Best Buddies Missouri Chapter of the Year Awards

The Best Buddies chapters at LaSalle Springs Middle and Pond Elementary have earned the Best Buddies Missouri Middle School and Elementary School Chapter of the Year Awards.

Best Buddies is a nonprofit organization that offers one-to-one friendship and leadership development programs for individuals with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities. This past fall, Eureka High Best Buddies earned Missouri High School Chapter of the Year.

Special education teachers Lindsey Meinhardt and Megan Schaller and physical education teachers Nicole Griffing and Diana Stiefer serve as facilitators for the LaSalle Springs chapter, which contains more than 70 student members.

“We are thrilled and honored to be receiving the Best Buddies Chapter of the Year award in Missouri. This recognition confirms the incredible dedication of our school community,” the club facilitators said. “Best Buddies at LaSalle has allowed students of all abilities to form meaningful friendships. We focus on building a community where everyone feels valued and included. At LaSalle, we have seen students with and without disabilities create lasting friendships, and these friendships have fostered acceptance throughout our entire school community. We have seen the important lesson of recognizing and accepting people no matter their ability learned and understood by our students. It is an honor for others to see how these relationships have grown into understanding, acceptance and respect.”

Rockwood students decorate Best Buddies-themed frames at a celebration for earning state Chapter of the Year.

At Pond, Principal Dr. Andrea Darmon revealed the good news to students at a meeting in the school’s outdoor classroom during the last week of school.

“I love to help others and get to hang out with everyone and have fun,” said Giana, a fourth-grader in Pond’s chapter. “I think we won because this school is one of the most giving schools. Everyone is really kind here, and we just appreciate the differences of everyone here. This is a great honor for Pond because the kids and the teachers treat everyone kind, and that is impressive to me!”

The more than 50 Pond student chapter members celebrated by decorating Best Buddies-themed frames for a group picture, then enjoyed popsicles.

“Being recognized as the elementary chapter of the year for Missouri is such an honor!” said special education teacher Nicole Tucker, one of the chapter facilitators. “The outstanding efforts of students and all staff – including all teachers, specialists, support staff and administration – is what really made this possible. Pond has such a naturally inclusive environment, and we foster and build an understanding and foundation of acceptance!”

Two Rockwood students smile with popsicles at a celebration for their school earning state Best Buddies Chapter of the Year.

As Missouri’s Chapter of the Year representatives at their respective grade levels, LaSalle Springs and Pond now have the opportunity to apply for the National Chapter of the Year Award.

Receiving this award truly reminds us of the positive impact we can make when we work together. It inspires us to continue our goal of creating an environment where everyone of all abilities can flourish and be celebrated for who they are,” LaSalle Springs’ facilitators said. “We are dedicated to building a community where every student feels valued and inclusion is the norm. We want to thank everyone who has made our Best Buddies chapter at LaSalle possible and hugely successful. We are excited to continue to make a positive impact, one friendship at a time.”




A Rockwood school's Best Buddies chapter smiles in a group picture.
A Rockwood school's Best Buddies chapter smiles in a group picture.


Recent News Articles