School Of Character

StuCo earns School of Character award via Special Olympics
Posted on 04/05/2022
StuCo members display their statewide award.

Poplar Bluff High School Student Council was the only recipient in the state to earn the Award of Merit in the Special Olympics Missouri School of Character program for working to create an environment of inclusion.

According to the application, the award – the highest of four levels of recognition within the program, is given to a single qualifying school that displays outstanding commitment to individuals with intellectual disabilities, a true understanding of unity, and a passion for raising awareness and funds for local SOMO student-athletes.

“This is PB’s first time earning the School of Character award, and we are so proud to have earned the highest honor this first time,” stated Jennie Randolph, StuCo co-adviser. The statewide award was presented to the student organization on Friday, March 18, during the Missouri Association of Student Councils state convention in Branson.

The award program was established in 2014 as a way to recognize a district’s level of involvement in the SOMO movement through Unified Sports, whole campus engagement and inclusive youth leadership, according to Krista Evans, SOMO health and unified champion schools manager. She noted that six schools applied this time around.

As part of a prerequisite essay, sophomore Grace Neighbors, co-chair of the SOMO committee with classmate Nya Cram, summarizes several fundraisers held to supply prizes for the student-athletes, as well as activities to applaud Poplar Bluff’s participation in the annual games. “They have taught our school about how important it is to bring awareness to these amazing athletes,” she wrote of the efforts.

Featuring representation from one of the student-athletes, the PBHS SOMO committee is charged with “inspiring new ideas and working with students with special needs within our school to find new ways to make them included in all parts of school life,” Randolph wrote in the application.

One such idea, Randolph shared, was when StuCo hand drew posters for each of the 24 student-athletes last year, using school portraits as inspiration to imitate senior banners created in other sports. A letter banquet at the High School will be held following the SOMO spring games this month, announced Mindy Garrett, R-I special services director.

Another good-faith gesture, Grace detailed, was when the Leadership elective class requested that the student-athletes create artwork reflecting their personalities. A large collage was displayed in the main hallway of the building. “It helped to show the talents and individuality of our SOMO athletes,” Grace continued.

Fundraisers have variously included a series of penny wars featuring grade levels competing to generate over $300 in coins; PowderBuff, a male volleyball competition credited for bringing in another $300+; and a bake sale and a raffle that raised a combined $500, a portion of which went toward the Life Skills classroom budget. A small group also participated in the recent Polar Plunge in Cape Girardeau, additionally raising nearly $300 directly for SOMO.

Along with a plaque, StuCo will receive $450 toward uniforms, equipment and other expenses related to its student-athletes, one MASC camp scholarship, and numerous Unified Sports shirts, banners and other giveaways.

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Cutline: Displaying their statewide award are StuCo members (back row, left to right) Bryden Fuemmeler, co-sponsor Stephen Patty, Aminah Williams, Aaryn Johnson and Bralin Duckett; and (front row, from left) co-sponsor Jennie Randolph, Jaylee Lovette, Grace Neighbors, Addison Shell and Abby Murphy.

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