The Origin of Celebrating Friendships

Lidia Rios, Public Relations Manager

Downey High School’s club, Amigos, held their annual barbecue on Wednesday, Oct. 28, gathering all club members and nonmembers to participate in a day full of friendships and laughter. The club organized dancing and face painting to take place during the luncheon in honor of their fifth year as a club.


“It’s our fifth year and we’re here at the barbeque kicking it off by doing what we do best: giving the gift of friendship,” Cindy Salceda, the club founder, said. “We’re really looking forward to another great year.”


The barbecue not only united general and special education students from Downey High, but they also welcomed other clubs from schools such as: Warren and Columbus. Downey High involved both their special education and general education student populations.


“We do invite them because we do want them to come and be a part of our friends and family,” Salceda said, “and because we have so many general ed students it makes sense to invite them to come have fun with everyone.”

Amigos Club expands far beyond the school’s walls; they join together for The Arc Walk, located at Stonewood Mall, and unite in the winter for a Christmas shopping spree at JCPenney to help them buy their loved ones gifts.


“I’ve been a member for four years,” senior, Sara Soto said. “I think it’s really cool to show these kids that they fit in just like everyone else does.”


Amigos Club does what no other club in the history of Downey has done; it has broken down the barrier that divided the special ed students and the general ed population.


“At the time it was Mr. John Baker; he and I got together and said ‘We have to do something for these students.’ We saw them just having lunch or snack in their classrooms not going out,” Salceda said. “If they did go out, they were with their assistants huddled up in a corner not really engaging with the general ed population. That was just so sad and heartbreaking to see, we wanted to change that, which is why we started the club.”


Established as a club in the fall of 2011, Amigos was constructed thanks to a teacher named, Ms. Cindy Salceda who just wanted to make a difference in the lives of the special education students at Downey High School. Starting off with only as few as 100 students signing up, the club today has now received over 467 signatures from students yearning to be a part of the Amigos family.


Delighted to welcome new faces, the city of Downey became part of The Special Olympics Host Town Program, earlier this summer, Hosting the Ireland delegation, making it less formal due to our city’s historical ties with Ireland. Students like Andrew Sanchez, came to support his fellow Olympians and challenge a few to a game of ping pong.


“What we’re hoping to do is have more activities throughout the school day,” Ms. Main said, “maybe like a game board day and expand more in the classrooms; the students do feel more connected. They go to school events, they walk through the campus, stop and say ‘hi’ and that’s our goal to just make everyone feel like they do belong.”


Thanks to the help from assistant principal, Ms. Main, the period 3 Woodshop class, has become the Amigos class period. Integrating the general ed students with the special ed students and even coming together to help put together the float for the rose parade.


“I think we’re achieving great things. Just the fact that they are coming to school and can come up to you and say hi, or shake your hand, and give you a hug, and feel like they’re a part of you. That right there, that’s mission accomplished to me,” Salceda said.


Amigos Club provides a connection between all students no matter who they are; it creates a free atmosphere where anyone can feel and be themselves. Amigos Club has their meeting in the Downey High theatre once a month. For information inquires, contact Ms. Salceda or Ms. Main in the guidance office.