Rockwood Summit High School hosted a Special Olympics basketball event for hundreds of students, March 8.
"Students from Rockwood and other school districts are here today," said Kerrie Townsend, Special School District Special Olympics facilitator. "This is the second Rockwood school to be hosting an event for our Special Olympics program. Lafayette hosted a track and field event, a year ago."
The Summit Special Olympics event featured about 185 student-athletes, and even more buddies and helpers from Summit who donated their time to assist the kids who turned out.
"Buddies is a one-to-one partnership," said Townsend. "Those high school students support and encourage the athletes while they are participating. Summit basketball players are acting as referees, running the basketball-related games on the various courts. Different student clubs here are helping out as well, with carnival games and activities."
Tanner Jennings is a Rockwood Summit basketball player who served as Special Olympics referee.
Jennings said, "We're showing these students how to have fun with basketball!"
Senior Jessica Dempsey said she and other Summit students received training on how to serve as Special Olympics buddies.
Dempsey said, "We escort our athletes while they're here and try to make them feel welcome. If they need help with anything, we're there for them and we cheer them on in their games."
Summit Activities Director Mitch Lefkowitz said he knew such a large event was not too much for Summit students.
"It's a large undertaking, and we needed to take into account the number of kids we would have participating," said Lefkowitz. "But the bottom line is it's an opportunity for us and our students to serve other people."
Summit Principal Dr. Renee Trotier and other Rockwood administrators were on-hand throughout the event.
"It is close to our hearts," said Trotier. "Having the opportunity to work with students of varying abilities is good for any student. It's also an experiential learning opportunity for our students in Sports Management and Entertainment class. They're a big part of this event. They're learning all the details that go into organizing an event of this size."