EHS Recognized as National Banner School

Cassi Reaka, Editor-in-Chief

Special Olympics recognized EHS as a National Banner School for teachers’ and students’ work in making the school a more inclusive place.

To be eligible, a school must meet the ten standards of Special Olympics, according to Key Club president junior Brianna Cooper. The standards include offering a variety of sports for Special Olympics athletes, treating them similar to the school’s official teams and providing leadership opportunities for those “with and without intellectual disability.”

“The award is the highest level of achievement a school can be demonstrating a school of inclusion,” Cooper said.

Freshman Josie Steinmann has been involved in Special Olympics since seventh grade. 

“I plan school-wide and statewide events, and came up with ideas to make students at our school more active in Special Olympics,” Steinmann said. “I’m also very proud to be a student at an inclusive school where everyone is recognized.”

Everyone involved was ecstatic to receive the banner. 

“I have put in many hours trying to make this come true,” Cooper said. ”It’s truly an honor to see it come true and get the banner. It was such a great feeling dropping it and seeing the hard work of many athletes and peers pay off.”

According to Cooper, Edwardsville is the first Southern Illinois School to receive this award and received top Illinois Inclusive School of the Year. For this, EHS received a spot on the ESPN Honor Roll.

Working with students through the program has inspired junior Josh Stout to pursue a career as a special education teacher.

“Special Olympics has changed my life,” Stout said. “Working with our FLS and castle students has brought me so much joy over the past three years. I always have a smile on my face and joy in my heart working with our students.”

FLS teacher Chris Sumpter has had a major influence on Stout.

“Just seeing how much he loves his job and how he interacts with his students has really been a great influence on me choosing special education,” Stout said.

Cooper has also been influenced by Special Olympics to pursue a career working with people with disabilities.

“I have made many long lasting memories and friends,” Cooper said. “Special Olympics has inspired my future in occupational therapy. There is so much you can do with Special Olympics and so much fun to have. I highly recommend it to anyone I meet. It’s amazing to see everyone of all different kinds abilities all together to form a common goal.”