MANSFIELD — Superintendent Teresa Murphy and Director of Special Education Jim Leonard are pleased to announce that Mansfield Public Schools hosted a district-wide Special Olympics event last week.
On Friday, June 11, special education students from the Jordan/Jackson Elementary School, Qualters Middle School and Mansfield High School took part in the event held at Alumni Stadium at Mansfield High. The event was held in place of the annual Attleboro School Day Games, which typically take place at Attleboro High School and feature roughly 20 school districts in conjunction with Special Olympics of Massachusetts.
Last year the event was held virtually due to the pandemic, and this year Mansfield held its own specific celebration in lieu of a regional event.
“This day was a real collaboration of staff, administration, the Mansfield Police Department and a number of student volunteers,” said event coordinator and Mansfield Public Schools staff member Jillian Ellis. “Through a lot of hard work we were able to bring all of our students together in one place and host this incredible event. It’s amazing to see so many people smiling and playing together and enjoying the day. We couldn’t have been happier with how the event turned out.”
As part of the celebration students rotated in 15-minute shifts to various stations, where they played a variety of games including bowling, long jump, javelin toss, softball throw, corn hole and a baton relay. District staff and Mansfield High student volunteers helped run each of the stations.
Students also completed a 100-meter run/walk, and at the finish line were greeted by members of the Mansfield Police Department where they received medals for their efforts. Mansfield Police Chief Ronald Sellon was at the finish line, and met each student as they finished their run/walk.
“Everyone had a tough time over the past year but some of these kids most of all,” Chief Sellon said. “This is a great opportunity for the students to get together and be with each other. Social interaction is such an important part of development, and it means a lot to host an event like this, and we’re happy to be able to support it in any way we can.”
The Mansfield Public Schools has two School Resource Officers from the MPD, including Detective Kenneth Wright and Detective Derek McCune, as well as a service dog, Bentley. Detective McCune handed out medals to each of the students at the event. Medals were provided by the Special Olympics of Massachusetts.
Family members of those who participated were invited to cheer on the students from the stands. Signs for each student were also made and lined up along the track.
At the conclusion of the event each student was given a certificate of participation courtesy the Mansfield Athletic Department.
“This is just such a special way to celebrate our kids,” Director Leonard said. “After the year we’ve had, it means a lot. These kids deserve this, and it’s probably the best day out of the whole year for us.”
The event was held after close consultation with Director of Health Services Christine Dooling and the district’s nursing team. The district, following the latest health and safety guidelines, decided it could hold the celebration without the use of masks or social distancing.
“I’m so incredibly proud of the hard work our students put into this entire year, and this Special Olympics celebration was a great way to wrap up the school year for so many of our students,” Superintendent Murphy said. “Our staff, including Jillian Ellis and Director Leonard, did a fantastic job pulling this event together for everyone to enjoy.”