Partners in PE event draws 100 athletes from 11 schools
It was a rockstar’s welcome. Upper. St. Clair High School students lined the hallway enthusiastically cheering, clapping, extending high fives and offering words of welcome and encouragement for a great day as more than 100 special needs athletes from 11 area high schools entered the school.
The Upper St. Clair High School Partners in Physical Education sponsored its first ever Put Your Best Foot Forward event on March 31, 2016. Partners in PE is a group of general education students who receive their own physical education credits while supporting students with special needs in physical education classes. The Partners also participate in a variety of social activities throughout the year. Thursday’s event drew 80 student volunteers.
Throughout the morning-long Put Your Best Foot Forward event, partners and athletes participated in a variety of skill-building activities that focused on students using their feet including soccer, kick-ball, and other skill-building sessions.
“There have been many faculty members that have supported us, but we'd especially like to thank the teacher-aide support in our classroom, the high school athletic office, and our physical education department,” Dan Beck, assistant high school principal, said. “Two students, Jay Pollock and Eric Lehman, have also contributed to the initial planning and coordination. It has been fun watching so many ideas start becoming a reality.”
In addition to Partners in PE and Partners in SHOP, the Life Skills class at Upper St. Clair High School has been involved with S.T.A.R.S. (Schools Together with Athletes Reaching Success), which is comprised of more than 20 area schools that host various social and athletic opportunities.
“Our program has evolved through our involvement in the S.T.A.R.S. cohort,” Lyn Mulroy, life skills support teacher, said. “Needless to say, we are excited that an event in its first year attracted this many participants and volunteers!”
The mission of the S.T.A.R.S. partnership program is to provide meaningful activities for students with and without physical and intellectual disabilities to collaborate, create and participate in activities that enrich the school curriculum. S.T.A.R.S. coordinates interscholastic opportunities where all students can compete, participate in, and build friendships through athletic and social events. Through a collaborative, peer-driven leadership structure, individuals come together to enrich the lives of all students in the collective high school communities.
There are now more than 20 school districts throughout southwestern Pennsylvania involved in the S.T.A.R.S. program. Efforts are spearheaded through a collaborative group of special education teachers, physical education teachers, and transition coordinators from the various school districts.