LHS Champions Together receives national honor from Special Olympics


Brennon Keller, Danae Hogan, and Christina Dovell celebrate with Betzhy Rubio during a bocce tournament. Photo courtesy of Champions Together.

Isabel Vasbinder, Staff Reporter

Liberty’s Champions Together program has been recognized by the Area 27 Special Olympics Unified National Banner Program.

They have received this recognition for demonstrating the ten standards of excellence. These standards are met by demonstrating inclusion between students with disabilities, and students without disabilities. 

In order to be eligible for this recognition, a Special Olympics Unified Sports School must be showing these ten standards of excellence every year. To have this banner recognition, the school has an inclusive school climate, and the school must also have respect for all members of the student body and staff. 

Within these standards, there are some primary activities that are involved. One of these activities is the act of combining both students with disabilities and students without disabilities to train together and compete together as a team. Inclusive youth leadership is also an activity that is within these ten standards. 

In order to reapply for banner status, all schools under this recognition must continue to meet the ten standards of excellence, every year. To keep schools sustained to keeping this promise, each school can reapply for this banner status every four years. 

Every school gets their application reviewed in two stages. The first stage is getting the application reviewed by the state program staff. The second stage of the application process is getting it reviewed by the national certifying body of key educational leaders. 

Not only are the Champions together group happy and excited about this honor, our administrators are also very happy and proud of receiving this recognition. 

Liberty vice principal Ms. Lauren Milburn says that having this banner recognition is a huge reward for our students and staff. 

“I am very proud to be recognized as a banner school,” said Milburn. “I am also very proud of our special education teachers, and if it weren’t for their hard work, we wouldn’t have this honor. This recognition also promoted the idea of inclusion where Champions Together is open to anyone, and there is a diversity of different students with different interests.”

Champions Together coach, Katie Waddle, also says that she is also extremely proud to be recognized as a school for this honor. 

“It makes me proud because it is a huge accomplishment for our students, and having this recognition shows how these students have made Liberty an inclusive school,” said Waddle. 

Champion’s Together coach, Helene Leigh says that this recognition is one that students have been working hard towards receiving. 

“Being recognized as a banner school has been a recognition that we have been working hard towards. Having this recognition shows that Liberty is a really inclusive environment,” said Leigh. 

Not only did it take hard work and determination, it also took a very long application process. Coach Leigh says that the yearly application process took a very long time to help reach this recognition. 

“The yearly application process led us to this. Ms. Milburn helped us fill out all of the paperwork. We applied for this recognition in the Spring, and we didn’t find out that we had been recognized until this fall,” said Leigh. 

Champions Together meets on Tuesdays during SOAR.