PICKENS — Special Olympics South Carolina has announced Pickens High School will be named a Banner Unified Champion School for its efforts to provide inclusive sports and activities for students with and without disabilities.
The banner was presented during a ceremony in the school gymnasium at 1:30 p.m. on March 30.
“Pickens High School is receiving this honor as a result of meeting national standards of excellence in the areas of inclusion, advocacy and respect,” said Barbara Oswald, Vice President of Programs Special Olympics South Carolina in the letter informing the school of the recognition.
“I’m very proud of what the teachers at PHS have done to catapult their school into the limelight,” said Cathy Ashton, Director of Special Services for the School District of Pickens County. “They’ve gone above and beyond their job description because of how much they care for their students and that’s just an indicator of the quality teachers we have here in Pickens County.”
The banner ceremony showcased the talents of Pickens High School students, including the Blue Flame Unified Cheer team. PHS Special Olympics athletes and their Unified peers also shared stories about their experiences as part of a Unified Champion school.
According to the Special Olympics South Carolina, a Special Olympics Unified Champion School has an inclusive school climate and exudes a sense of collaboration, engagement and respect for all members of the student body and staff.
A Banner Unified Champion School — like PHS — is one that has demonstrated commitment to inclusion by meeting 10 national standards of excellence, a spokesperson for Special Olympics South Carolina said.
These standards were developed by a national panel of leaders from Special Olympics and the education community and include Special Olympics Unified Sports (where students with and without disabilities train and compete as teammates), Inclusive Youth Leadership and Whole-School Engagement, just to name a few.
Banner Unified Champion Schools should also be able to demonstrate they are self-sustainable or have a plan in place to sustain these activities into the future.
Including Pickens High School, only 14 South Carolina high schools have been designated as Banner Schools for the class of 2017-18.