HCSD Special Olympics Bocce Ball event draws 74 students

 HARLAN -- On Wednesday, May 8, the Harlan Community School District Special Olympics held their first-ever Unified Champion School (UCS) event - a round robin style Bocce Ball Tournament - in the Harlan Primary School gym.
 The event was originally scheduled to be held outside on the school’s brand new bocce court, but rain forced the tournament indoors.
 Despite being a no-school day for the district, a total of 74 students participated and 20 adults volunteered to take part in this monumental event. Also on hand were Bruce Wilson, Bryan Coffey and Lexxi O’Brien from the SOIA office in Ames.
 Bocce ball teams were comprised of 31 Special Olympics athletes and 43 unified partners. In Unified Sports, teams join people of similar age and ability, which make practices fun and games challenging and exciting for all. Teams are made up of approximately equal numbers of Special Olympics athletes and athletes without intellectual disabilities (called partners). Practicing and competing together is one additional way of eliminating preconceived notions and false impressions.
 Opening ceremonies included sophomore Mark Kenkel holding the Iowa flag, 7th grader Nikolai Spahn holding the USA flag, 6th grader Katherine Schwery holding the Special Olympics Iowa flag and junior Chloe Hays holding the Special Olympics torch.
 Griffin Schleimer, a sophomore and Life Scout, started the Pledge of Allegiance, senior Emily Holloway sang the National Anthem and senior Hailey Schumacher and junior Gracie Assmann led the Special Olympics Oath.
 The Harlan Community School District Special Olympics coaches and delegation manager have worked very hard this year to build the team up, watch it grow and become a Unified Champion School.

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