Impact Stories — Unified Schools/Special Olympics

Throughout June, OSERS will celebrate the graduating high school class of 2020.
This first blog in the series highlights three students who participated in the Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools program.

Congratulations Graduates! A Spotlight on Participants of Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools

logo - Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools

By Andrea Cahn, Project Director & Vice President for Unified Champion Schools

The Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools program is aimed at promoting social inclusion through intentionally planned and implemented activities affecting systems-wide change. With sports as the foundation, the three-component model offers a unique combination of effective activities that equip young people with tools and training to create sports, classroom and school climates of acceptance. These are school climates where students with disabilities feel welcome and are routinely included in, and feel a part of, all activities, opportunities and functions.

Montanna McCulley of Pontiac, Illinois

Pontiac Township High School

Montanna McCulley

by Jennifer Kelso, the Director of Youth Initiatives at Special Olympics Illinois

Montanna McCulley of Pontiac, Illinois is a proud 2020 graduate of Pontiac Township High School, a Unified Champion National Banner School.

While in high school, Montanna served on the Special Olympics Youth Activation Committee and attended many Youth Activation Summits. She was a member of Peers In Action, her high school’s Unified Club, where she helped plan and attended many activities.

Montanna was on the Unified soccer and Unified basketball teams as well as the Special Olympics track and field team. Her team won the 2017 Division 4 State Championship in soccer and the 2018 Division 2 Illinois High School Association’s Unified State Championship in basketball. Her Unified basketball team was headed again to this year’s state championship before it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to her school activities, Montanna worked as a dietary aide at Accolade Healthcare of Pontiac. While most of the state shutdown during the pandemic, essential workers remained working, and Montanna is one of them. She continued to work during this difficult time. She achieved success at her job independently, without the assistance of a job coach. Montanna plans to continue her career at Accolade following graduation.

Montanna loves school, her friends and teachers, Unified Champion Schools and Special Olympics.

Liam Price of Greenwood, Indiana

Center Grove High School, Greenwood, Indiana

Liam Price

by Liam Price

Hello, my name is Liam! I am a senior at Center Grove High School in Greenwood, Indiana.

I play Unified basketball, Unified track, and participate in Special Olympics Johnson County, Indiana.

I am a leader because of how hard I try and persevere with my abilities.

It will be a lifelong challenge that I will face for probably the rest of my life, even if I lived to be 742 years old!

During my freshman year of high school, I finally got to experience competing for my school by doing Unified track and field, and a lot of my friends got involved with me.

Since then, I’ve gotten more involved with Unified activities (sports and games) and grown from them. I hope that others will follow my steps and join in on Unified Champion activities and sports!

Learn more about Liam.

Marc Ramirez of Flossmoor, Illinois

Homewood-Flossmoor High School

Marc Ramirez

by Jennifer Kelso, the Director of Youth Initiatives at Special Olympics Illinois

Marc is a graduating senior from Homewood-Flossmoor High School in Flossmoor, Illinois and is an active member of the Homewood-Flossmoor community and our Special Olympics program.

In addition to being a great student with a 3.9 GPA, Marc is actively involved in extra-curricular clubs and sports. He has been a three-sport athlete competing in unified soccer, traditional basketball, and track and field all four years of high school.

He has been an active leader in our local programs and helped plan our last respect week campaign. He loves politics and his dream job is working at our local Secretary of State’s office.

After he graduates from Homewood-Flossmoor, Marc will attend the district-sponsored Vocational Achievement for Successful Transition Program.

Learn more about Homewood-Flossmoor’s Unified physical education class.

Blog articles provide insights on the activities of schools, programs, grantees, and other education stakeholders to promote continuing discussion of educational innovation and reform. Articles do not endorse any educational product, service, curriculum or pedagogy.


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