Sioux Falls Unified Champion School Unites Students

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.-Schools across South Dakota are choosing to become more inclusive by becoming a Unified Champion School through the South Dakota Special Olympics. This means the school is choosing to promote social inclusion of those with and without disabilities through education and sports.

Roosevelt High School is in its second year with the program. There are many different things the school does to be inclusive. Our Reporter Miranda Paige tells us about one of the students favorite ways, through the Best Buddy Club.

At Roosevelt High School their motto is “we are Roosevelt, we are one.” It’s a saying the school takes to heart.

“It’s something we believe in. That everyone is important and that everyone is visible in school and that matters,” said Roosevelt Principal, Tim Hazlett.

So they started the best buddy club where everyone is welcome. It’s a Special Olympics program that pairs students with and without disabilities together. Throughout the year there is meetings, scheduled activities and events for buddies to participate in.

“Although the pairing is artificial the idea is that throughout the year and throughout the activities we do and throughout them hanging out the bond becomes real and they become genuine friends so that they have someone to be with in and outside of the school day,” said Jack Brenneman, Best Buddies Student President.

The club is something students look forward to doing.

“I get to have friends to hangout with and not have to be home by myself and people invite me to hangout with them,” said student, Chris Keiser.

“Just having fun, getting to know someone better,” said Sophomore Allison Kothe.

It’s been a good life lesson for students.

“I’ve learned that everybody and everyone is a person no matter how they look and stuff and so that they all have feelings and they need to be treated the same,” said Keiser.

This is the second year and the club is growing. They had around 60 students last year. Now there is over 100 students.

Thursday was the first meeting of the school year. Next week new students will be paired up. Many are eager to get started.

“Meeting new people, meeting new friends and stuff and I just thought like I couldn’t like meet those people outside of like this probably,” said Freshman Klin Schroder.

Organizers say this club has had a positive impact

“I think it’s benefited the school, the community and in return I think it’ll better the world,” said Brenneman.

They look forward to continuing to spread a message of inclusiveness throughout Roosevelt High School this year.

Roosevelt plans to pursue other opportunities to bring students together like starting a unified basketball team this spring.


Categories: Community, Education, Local News, News