Wasilla High School received a national banner recognition for their excellence in the Special Olympics Unified Champion School program. The school is one of 68 that will be recognized across the country this year.

Coalette Watchus, a special education educator at Wasilla High, believes that this award is exemplified for the work that the school has made for the inclusion of all students.

“It means that the nation is recognizing the work that we’re doing with our students, all of our students at Wasilla High, that everyone is accepted, no matter what their abilities are,” Watchus said.

Hadley Remele, another special education educator at Wasilla High, agrees. She referenced a history of cohesive sports, clubs and classrooms.

“It just really highlights all of those programs that have been developed through teachers and students in the school,” Remele said.

Schools receiving this recognition must prove that they can meet 10 standards of excellence according to the guidelines set by the Special Olympics National Unified Champion School Recognition Program. These ten standards include cohesive sporting events, youth leadership opportunities and engagement across the campus.

“We’re really proud of this accomplishment,” Wasilla High School Principal Jason Marvel said. “And it just shows the inclusive nature, the inclusive environment, that we have at Wasilla High School.”

Marvel reflected on one of his most memorable experiences as principal at Wasilla High. He recalls a basketball game a couple of years ago hosted by the students in the Partner’s Club for students with special needs. Events like these involve the entire school with students cheering on and supporting the competitors.

“What this represents is that you can see people building community and coming together, and really feeling that they’re a part of something bigger than themselves,” Marvel said.

Marvel reflects on the people heavily involved with these programs in the past that have created this opportunity for the school.

“They’re the true champions and the true heroes,” Marvel said, “and our students are the true champions and heroes.”

Remele believes that this recognition not only represents the students at Wasilla High, but also the community in which students and staff live.

“This recognition really highlights to the community what we’re doing and people are excited to have us come participate in activities with them,” Remele said. “ [this recognition] opened up new avenues and doors for us.”

The local banner presentation will be announced once scheduled.

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