Walking into the football stadium at Dublin High School, there was a feel of electricity in the air. Students skipped with excitement and parents proudly donned their children’s school colors. Many parents and siblings carried signs of encouragement and the school buses were even painted for the occasion:
The Dublin High School marching band – clad in their regal blue uniforms that were making their first public appearance – lined up, poised to open the festivities. Had it been a crisp fall night, you would think people were attending a playoff football game. But instead, it was a sunny spring morning and more than 500 friends, family members and general education students cheered on the 535 special education student-athletes competing in track and field events.
Welcoming student-athletes from Dublin, Pleasanton and Livermore, Dublin High School hosted a track meet for student-athletes in the Special Olympics Northern California Schools Partnership Program. Athletes varying in age from preschool to high school competed in running, high jump, turbo javelin and long jump.
In our last track meet story, it was all about the smiles. At this track meet, the parent and peer support is what really struck me. Some of these parents haven’t had the chance to cheer on their intellectually disabled children at an AYSO soccer game or at a tee ball game. But thanks to the Schools Partnership Program, the parental pride is contagious. One parent lifted his son into the air after competing in the 10 meter dash and the whole meet warranted a plethora of high fives.
Another great part about this track meet was all the Dublin High School general education students in attendance. They filed into the stadium and cheered on the disabled student-athletes just like it was a DHS football game. More than 100 non-disabled peers were down on the field – volunteering and working one-on-one with the student-athletes. After opening the parade of athletes, the DHS band stayed to play music, which really amped up the atmosphere. Additionally, one of the members of the DHS transition program is a member of the band and gallantly marched with his schoolmates. These School Partnership Program events unify these two groups of students that don’t always have a lot of interaction, and it’s so great to see.
To help capture why the Schools Partnership Program – we talked to the Dublin Unified Director of Special Education and a parent whose son was competing that day. Enjoy!