2019 National Banner Schools Announced
This year, 16 Massachusetts High Schools have received the honor of being called a National Banner School. These schools have met or exceeded national standards of excellence in the areas of Unified sports, whole school engagement and inclusive youth leadership. They join a group of 10 Massachusetts schools which received this honor in 2018.
These schools will be presented with a banner to hang in their school and be included on a list of other schools around the country who have achieved this distinguished status.
Once a school has become a Unified Champion School they are eligible to apply for National Banner Recognition. A Unified Champion School receiving national banner recognition is one that has demonstrated commitment to inclusion by meeting 10 national standards of excellence. These standards were developed by a national panel of leaders from Special Olympics and the education community.
A school is named a Unified Champion School by the state program when they have fulfilled certain criteria in the areas of Unified sports, whole school engagement and inclusive youth leadership. Once a school is a Unified Champion School, they are eligible to apply for National Banner status which requires them to meet or exceed standards of excellence put forth by a national committee.
Congratulations to the following schools which have been recognized as National Banner Schools and will receive an official banner to hang in their school.
Andover High School
Canton High School
Grafton High School
Marlborough High School
Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School
Middleborough High School
Natick High School
Needham High School
Norton High School
Oakmont Regional High School
Seekonk High School
Shrewbury High School
Somerset Berkley Regional High School
Wahconah Regional High School
Walpole High School
Worcester Technical High School
More than 180 schools are currently participating in Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools programming in Massachusetts as part of more than 6,500 schools across the country engaged in the program. Special Olympics has a global goal of creating 10,000 Unified Champion Schools by 2020.
The Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® model is supported by the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education. This model has been proven, through research, to be an effective and replicable means to providing students with and without disabilities the opportunity to form positive social relationships and promote a socially inclusive school climate*. Key data points include:
- 84% of students regard participation in the program as a turning point in their lives.
- 72% of involved teachers believe participation in the program has increased the confidence of students with disabilities.
- 88% credit the program with reducing bullying and teasing in their schools.
A Special Olympics Unified Champion School has an inclusive school climate and exudes a sense of collaboration, engagement, and respect for all members of the student body and staff. A Unified Champion School receiving national banner recognition is one that has demonstrated commitment to inclusion by meeting 10 national standards of excellence. These standards were developed by a national panel of leaders from Special Olympics and the education community.
The primary activities within these standards include: Special Olympics Unified Sports® (where students with and without disabilities train and compete as teammates), Inclusive Youth Leadership and Whole-School Engagement. National banner schools should also be able to demonstrate they are self-sustainable or have a plan in place to sustain these activities into the future.
*Evaluation conducted by the Center for Social Development and Education (CSDE) at the University of Massachusetts Boston