With plenty of championship banners adorning the walls and raucous cheers echoing from the gymnasium of Newark Memorial High School, you’d think there was a state title on the line. But even better were the 250 students receiving special education services playing in the inaugural Schools Partnership Program basketball competition, put on by Special Olympics Northern California and the Mission Valley SELPA.
The event was the culmination of eight weeks of training for the students receiving special education services in Fremont, New Haven and Newark school districts. It was the first basketball competition in the area after American High School hosted a soccer competition in November.
Buses made their way to Newark Memorial and students lined up with their schools for the Parade of Athletes – set to the musical stylings of the NMHS band – to kick off Opening Ceremonies. Each school made their way into the gym to cheers from the general education student population of NMHS along with parents and supporters. A pair of Washington High School parents, complete with their orange shakers and Husky blanket, were the perfect picture of school spirit.
The home-field advantage was apparent when the crowd erupted as Newark Junior High and host Newark Memorial High were announced. A student-athlete from James Logan High felt equally as welcomed by the audience when he led them in the pledge of allegiance, as he grinned from ear to ear. Nothing topped the response after a NMHS student-athlete sang the national anthem — the gym thundered in support.
From there, the games were declared open and competition began. Games were spread across four courts with another room devoted to skills practice for those not playing at the moment. Teams enjoyed lunches in the gym followed by an award ceremony.
Students in the NMHS Student Athletic Advisory Council aided Athletic Director Rachel Kahoalii in organizing the logistics of the event and served as volunteers. When asked about working the event, several general education students said “It’s so much fun!” and “These photos are so going in the yearbook!”
Representing the Fremont School District were Horner Junior High School along with American, Kennedy, Mission San Jose and Washington high schools. Newark Junior High School, Bridgepoint High and of course host Newark Memorial High School composed the Newark district. Hailing from New Haven were Cesar Chavez and Alvarado middle schools and James Logan High School.
And onto the photos…
The parade of athletes:
A pair of general education students volunteering in the skills area:
Some handmade signs for the Newark students:
Can’t wait to see track & field season in Mission Valley this spring!