Lincoln-Way East Student Named Best Buddies President of the Year
Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Lincoln-Way East senior Nathan Drewes won the prestigious State High School Chapter President of the Year award from Best Buddies national organization.

Drewes was presented the award during the 2015 Best Buddies Friendship Walk on May 2nd at Brookfield Zoo. Lincoln-Way Easts Best Buddies team came in third in state for fundraising and donations for the Friendship Walk, and had the largest number of students participating in the walk this year.

Im so proud of Nathan and our Best Buddies team for their compassion and commitment toward students with developmental and intellectual disabilities, said Dr. Sharon Michalak, Principal of Lincoln-Way East. Nathan should be commended for earning this national recognition. He is an asset to our school and has done so much to promote a positive environment.

I have always been drawn to individuals with special needs, said Drewes, adding that his best friend in kindergarten was blind. No one likes getting left out. Hanging out with my Best Buddy is the best part of my day.

Drewes said even though his Best Buddy who has Down Syndrome cannot speak, he enjoys communicating with him nonverbally.

We hang out; he likes to dance and listen to music, said Drewes about his buddy.

East has 150 students who participate in Best Buddies, including 18 students with special needs who are paired up with a peer buddy.

As President, Drewes oversees Easts five Best Buddies officers, and plans monthly events, including karaoke, bowling, beach-themed activities, and serving as the fan section at basketball, water polo and other athletic events.

The 18 peer buddies and their matches have four hangouts per year and 15 contacts per month, which are recorded and submitted to the state and national organization.
Students also have Best Buddy families, with four or five students to connect with.

It means a lot to receive the award; it shows all of our hard work makes a difference, said Drewes. I cried on the stage especially because my best buddy surprised me and came out of nowhere to hug me when I received the award.

Easts Best Buddies club has received awards for the past three years, including rookie of the year and most outstanding chapter.

Drewes plans to study chemical engineering at the University of Alabama with the goal of becoming an orthopedic surgeon. Next year, he will serve as Best Buddies program manager at the University and hopes to make the club more inclusive.