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Southampton High School Named As National Banner Unified Champion School By Special Olympics International

Shakir Philippe

Southampton High School has been recognized by Special Olympics International for its various inclusive sporting programs, including its unified basketball program. Pictured are unified basketball players during a game held last school year. (Photo courtesy of the Southampton Union Free School District)

The Southampton School District has been recognized as a National Banner Unified Champion School by Special Olympics International for demonstrating a commitment to creating an inclusive school climate that "exudes a sense of collaboration, engagement and respect for all members of the student body and staff," according to the standards and criteria developed by a national panel of leaders from Special Olympics and the education community.

The district earned recognition for its unified physical education program and numerous inclusive events under the direction of physical education teacher Brian Tenety, including unified programs for soccer, floor hockey, basketball, bowling, and the Special Olympics Track and Field competition in the 2013-14 school year.

"We are thrilled to be recognized with this honor," said Athletic Director Darren Phillips. "We are extremely fortunate to have [physical education teacher] Brian Tenety here at Southampton. His enthusiasm and passion for working with our students is incredible, especially for our Special Olympics and unified student-athletes. Brian continues to be a leader in New York when it comes to unified programs, as he continues to present at the local and state level and work with our nearby school districts on implementing programs and training their staff."

As part of the honor, Special Olympics International presented the district with an achievement certificate and will be presenting a banner in the near future. Southampton is one of 155 school districts in the U.S. to receive the recognition out of the nation's 10,000 Unified Champion Schools. Banner Unified Champion Schools are also required to have a plan in place to sustain these activities into the future and reapply for banner status every 4 years.

The primary activities within these standards consist of students with and without disabilities training and competing as teammates, inclusive youth leadership, and whole-school engagement.The Southampton School District has succeeded in moving towards the collective goal of creating a truly 'unified generation' of young people who embrace differences and lead social change.

For more information and the full list of nationally recognized schools, visit https://www.specialolympics.org/our-work/unified-champion-schools/banner-recognition-program.

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