BELLEVUE – St. Madeleine Sophie School has been honored by Special Olympics for its commitment to inclusion, receiving National Banner status as a Special Olympics Unified Champion School.
Fewer than 300 schools (elementary through university level) around the country have received the honor, which requires that a school meet 10 national standards of excellence around inclusion, advocacy and respect, according to a press release from Special Olympics Washington.
The standards include implementing sustainable programs around Special Olympics Unified Sports (where students with and without intellectual disabilities train and compete as teammates), inclusive youth leadership and engagement throughout the whole school.
“We are all so proud of [Principal] Dan Sherman and the work he and his staff have done to make St. Madeleine Sophie one of the most inclusive schools in the state,” said Sandra Barton Smith, assistant superintendent of Catholic schools, in an email.
Seattle Mariners announcer Rick Rizzs and the Mariner Moose were on hand for the banner presentation ceremony at the school December 13. The mascot posed for photos with Frannie Ronan, a third-grader at St. Madeleine Sophie who has Down syndrome and who was the youngest athlete to compete this summer at the Special Olympics USA Games, where she won a medal in gymnastics.
Thirty-eight schools and universities around the U.S. received National Banner status this year. St. Madeleine Sophie is one of only eight elementary schools so honored, and the only National Banner elementary school in Washington.
Liberty High School in Renton was also honored as a banner school last week.
“St. Madeleine Sophie School and Liberty High School have shown tremendous leadership in living out the ideals of inclusion both on and off the playing field. Their Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools national banner recognition is well deserved,” said Dave Lenox, CEO of Special Olympics Washington. “With the energy and commitment to inclusion that their students bring, the future of the Special Olympics movement is in great hands.”