On Thursday, Dec. 13, St. Madeleine Sophie Catholic School held a special assembly to celebrate their national recognition as an inclusive school. Together with school staff, Special Olympics representatives, archdiocesan, and Mariner Moose, the students celebrated the arrival of their Special Olympics Unified Champion School banner.
Of 38 school and universities, St. Madeleine Sophie School was one of only eight elementary school across the country, and the only elementary-level National Banner school in Washington.
“It’s important to us to earn this recognition because our school has always been inclusive,” said principal Martine Romero. “It’s an amazing honor and we’re extremely blessed with our families and with our staff who embrace inclusion, and with our students who live it so authentically everyday.”
The Special Olympics Unified Champion School program aims to promote social inclusion through intentionally planned and implemented activities affecting system-wide change.
In order for a school to qualify, they must meet Special Olympics Unified Champion School standards. There are 10 standards of excellence that a national banner school must achieve in the categories of Special Olympics Unified Sports and Young Athletes, inclusive youth leadership, whole school engagement, and sustainability.
St. Madeleine achieved all of these standards by implementing inclusive sports, inclusive youth leadership opportunities and whole school engagement.
“You are changing the world in a way that people haven’t been able to do,” president and CEO of Special Olympics Washington Dave Lenox said to the students. “You matter. What you do matters.”
The school also received a special message from the executive director of Special Olympics International Tim Shriver. Shriver congratulated the St. Madeleine community and gave a special shout out to Frannie Ronan who participated in the Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle in July.
“Congratulations to all of you for doing what I think is the most important work in the world today,” Shriver said. “[You’re] proving that we can include one another and open up our hearts.”
Ronan, a third-grade student at St. Madeleine, participated in the games in July and won two Silver and Bronze medals in gymnastics. Ronan, who has Down Syndrome, was the youngest athlete to participate in the games. She was 8 years old at the time.
St. Madeleine’s president for mission and advancement Dan Sherman encouraged the students to continue being a light wherever they went.
To learn about St. Madeleine Sophie Catholic School, go online to www.smsbellevue.org.