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Special Olympics Brings Community Together

Collection of volunteers and student athletes

On Wednesday, May 22, the high school hosted the annual Special Olympics, which included 400 athletes, 423 student volunteers and 45 staff volunteers. The opening ceremony began with the national anthem sung by students, the lighting of the torch, and once that was finished, the games began!

Singing of the national anthem

Some of the events included ball throw, running and jumping. Students spent time in the chill zone playing backyard games, coloring, bracelet making and much more. There was face painting done by the NHS students. The goal for student athletes was to have a fun day all about them!

Athlete Abby Donohue said her favorite part was “throwing the ball and running.” She was very excited to be buddied up with her cousin, Kennedy Conn.

A lot goes into the planning of Special Olympics weeks before the event. Some of these things include recruiting and training volunteers, preparing the athletes and much more. Organizer and special education teacher Mrs. Kathleen Welsh said, “What makes this event so special is that our entire district works together to make it happen. Some of the planning that we do includes coordinating athletes from 12 school districts, scheduling them for heats, assigning and training volunteers, providing a concession stand, coordinating transportation and traffic/parking and working to make sure the event is safe and accessible for everyone.”

“It is a huge undertaking that would not be possible without the support and hard work of everyone involved,” Mrs. Welsh said. Planning this event starts months in advance and takes a lot of time and effort to make it as special as possible for our student-athletes.

Life skills teacher Ms. Mary Joyce said her favorite part was “seeing the student athletes beam with pride all day long: their smiles as we walked through the clap out, their excitement after receiving their ribbons and their laughter with their buddies– it’s just a really nice feeling to witness such joy.”

Ms. Joyce also praised the volunteers: “The hard work that all the volunteers put in to making this event possible is so valued because our student athletes receive an opportunity to demonstrate their abilities and build their confidence. Events like Special Olympics allow students to come together in a supportive and inclusive environment, leading to the most memorable experiences.”

Mrs. Welsh said her favorite part is seeing “the positive energy that resonates throughout the stadium. It is the smiles, cheering, and sense of community you see and feel as you walk around. I love the pride that our athletes feel and the genuine love and support that our student volunteers show these athletes.”

Group of student athletes

Student athlete Alexandra Cruz shared how her buddy, Marwa Mrad, had a great day: “I liked walking around with my partner [Marwa]. She was so fun and nice.” Alexandra had been excited about Special Olympics all year and now she can’t wait until next year.

The annual Special Olympics was a heartwarming success, showcasing the athletes’ abilities and the community’s dedication, creating unforgettable memories for all involved. The event’s spirit of inclusivity and celebration left everyone eagerly anticipating next year’s games.

*[All photos from the HH website]

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Charlotte Chapman
Charlotte Chapman, Staff Reporter
What is a favorite hobby of yours: Horseback Riding What do you look forward to working with The Hat Chat: Interviewing people because it’s cool to get to know new people I would normally not talk too. What college do you want to go to: Not sure What's an interesting fact about yourself: I have been riding horses since 5th grade, and I am a camp counselor in the summer

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