Bowman paraprofessional offers support, unconditional love to students

Published: Feb. 14, 2023 at 3:18 PM CST
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BOWMAN, N.D (KFYR) – These days, high school is about so much more than just math, science and English.

The list of elective classes students can take, even at some of the state’s smallest schools, is impressive. Students can get hands-on lessons in graphic design, music, agriculture and they can even learn skills like welding.

At Bowman County High School, one paraprofessional works hard to make sure those classes are available to every student, no matter their ability.

Lanie Janikowski is all smiles during band class. She’s a member of the percussion section in the Bowman County High School band.

“She has always loved music,” said Jackie Freitag, a paraprofessional at the school.

Janikowski can’t read music, but Freitag can.

“I’m a musician,” Freitag said.

And thanks to Mrs. Freitag, Janikowski knows exactly what to do.

“Yeah,” Janikowski replied when asked if Freitag makes her feel comfortable.

“She knows when to play and she gets pretty excited about that. Music has always been so very important to her,” added Freitag.

So is being a part of this group.

“She got to go to a contest with the group last year, which was huge for her. She got to dress up and be a part of the group and it was wonderful to watch her,” recalled Freitag.

Freitag has watched Janikowski grow from a shy, quiet kindergarten student to a confident, joyful high school sophomore.

When Freitag isn’t working with Janikowski, she’s probably with Levi Kordovsky.

Right now, they’re learning to weld.

Kordovsky has Down syndrome and was determined to learn to weld.

“He jumped in with both feet and he’s not afraid. We’ve learned together,” said Freitag.

Together, they’ve made this sign for Levi’s mom.

“Was it hard to make or easy?” reporter Jody Kerzman asked Kordovsky.

“It was okay,” he replied.

“He’s willing to jump in and I just have to support him a little,” Freitag said. “Just to support and let them do as much as they can whenever they can and be allowed to be a part of whatever we can offer.”

In return, Freitag offers a helping hand and unconditional love for all of her students.

“I love them both so much,” she said.

Freitag will retire at the end of this school year, but she says she’ll stay in contact with Janikowski and Kordovsky forever.