Service High School raised another banner to their rafters last Tuesday after garnering attention from the likes of ESPN and Special Olympics for being one of the nation’s top Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools; this makes them the first Alaskan school to make the exclusive list.
The banner recognizes Service High School’s student body for its inclusion and involvement with students with disabilities, acknowledging Service High’s “inclusive school climate” and “sense of collaboration, engagement and respect for all members of the student body and staff,” according to the Special Olympics website.
Service High’s entire student body was in attendance. Students cheered and chanted as members of Partners Club took to the mic to express their love for the club and happiness for their school’s recognition.
Inclusion is engrained in the culture of Service High’s student body, as their Partners Club takes pride in working to ensure that all students feel involved. Over the years, Service Partners Club has hosted several events and activities for students with and without intellectual disabilities.
“Every student that walks through that door knows that there is a place for them to be involved,” Service High’s special education teacher, Adam Ahonen, said.
Established in 2001, Service High’s Partners Club is one of many Partners Club programs in Alaska sponsored by Special Olympics in order to provide various opportunities for students (with and without disabilities) to partake in recreational and social activities together.
These efforts have helped to perpetuate a culture of inclusion within the Service High Student body.
“[Inclusion] permeates the entire school,” Frank Hauser, the school’s principal, said. “It really is something that the student population, the community, the parents, the teachers — everyone believes in this feeling of inclusion.”
Amidst the honor of such a prestigious award, Hauser explains that Service High will continue to stand behind their narrative of inclusion for the sake of their students and community moving forward.
“Coming together, supporting each other, making sure that everyone has what they need to be successful — to feel safe and to feel welcomed — I think that’s what’s important in that we will continue to strive towards making this the most inclusive school and environment that we can,” Hauser said.