Students from school districts across the area, including Mehlville, Affton, Bayless and Hancock Place, gathered at Mehlville High School last week for the annual Track and Field Special Olympics celebration. The participating students ranged from elementary school up to high school.
Students who are served by the Special School District are the participating athletes, and students from Mehlville High serve as their “buddies” for the day. Nearly 250 SSD students enjoyed competition that tested their running, jumping and throwing skills. A special carnival game area was also set up so the students could play games and earn prizes.
“This is a day that our general education students really look forward to,” Mehlville High Principal Denise Swanger said in a news release. “They enjoy their buddy duties, where they guide each of the young athletes to the various competitions and they make sure our guests are having a great time. It’s hard to tell who is having more fun — the young athletes or their Mehlville High buddies.”
The festivities began at 10 a.m. with a ceremony and a torch relay run with the lighting of a ceremonial Olympic flame. For the next three hours, the young athletes enjoyed competing against their peers and being awarded ribbons for their effort. The students were served lunch and had an opportunity to pose for photographs with Louie, the mascot for the St. Louis Blues hockey team.
This was the 21st year that Mehlville High has hosted the Track and Field Special Olympics.
“It’s become a part of who we are at Mehlville High,” Swanger said. “We live in a diverse world, and that doesn’t just mean race, religion or country of origin. There is great diversity when it comes to individual abilities, and we prepare our students to be accepting of everyone they meet. The Special Olympics celebration that we host each year is one of the ways that we get our students ready for success in this ever-changing world.”