Introducing the Westley Stars


Maddi Foppe

The Westley starts have the goal of promoting inclusivity and school spirit.

With the help of junior Zoe DeYoung and Special Education teacher Jessica Bowman, a new dance team is coming: The Westley Stars. This dance team will provide Special Education students a chance to excel outside of the classroom at school-sponsored activities.

“The first inkling to starting this dance team was [when freshman] Sophia Boucher’s mom approached me. I teach hip hop to Sophia at my family’s dance studio, thinking it would be a great idea to create this team. I agreed and decided to move forward with this idea,” DeYoung said

DeYoung decided to seek help with this project with Jessica Bowman.

“I would not be able to do this alone, especially with [it being my] junior year. [Bowman] has been the only reason this could happen. She knows what it takes to get something like this running because she works with individuals with special needs all the time. She also is just a fabulous person, so she has really made it happen. We are really lucky to have her at Parkway West and we are really lucky to have her as the lead sponsor of this team.” DeYoung said.

Bowman works one-on-one with special needs students daily, teaching around eight to 10 students daily, working with them on life skills to establish independence outside of high school. 

“Every day is different with them, but I like that. Every day is a new day; so whatever happened the day before we can kind of forget and start fresh. It’s just a lot of working on social skills, academics and preparing for after high school too,” Bowman said.

Pictured are members of the Westley Stars team.


“I hope just for the kids to gain a friendship, not so much of them learning a dance routine but them gaining a friendship and feeling more included in their school,” Bowman said.

Westley Stars’ mission statement is an inclusive cheer and dance program of all ability levels.

“All students have the right to be included outside of the classroom, build relationships to lead to a genuine friendship, and connect with others through school spirit and showing pride for their school and one another,” according to their mission statement.

DeYoung is excited to provide students with an opportunity to be on a team that have not gotten this experience.

“I am really excited to see people come together, make friendships that wouldn’t have been made otherwise. I am excited for the students with special needs to get a standing ovation at these events, because I know West will do that,” DeYoung said. “At school events outside of school you see mostly general education students hyping up the crowd, but I know the excitement is going to come when everyone gets involved.”