School of Character 2023

PBHS wins statewide award through Special Olympics Missouri again
Posted on 04/25/2023
A representation of PBHS Student Council displays both individual and team awards including the prestigious School of Character plaque.

For the second consecutive year, Poplar Bluff High School has won the School of Character Award of Merit reserved for a single educational institution displaying an outstanding commitment to individuals with disabilities.

Special Olympics Missouri presented PBHS Student Council with the statewide award last month during the 75th annual Missouri Association of Student Councils Convention held in Jefferson City.

“The Award of Merit is given to one school each year, and PBHS has earned this recognition two years in a row for the work that the Student Council and the school does for student-athletes with special needs," explained communication arts teacher Jennie Randolph, StuCo co-adviser alongside colleague Stephen Patty. “The goal is to be inclusive, and this award simply shows all the efforts that these students make to include everybody.”

Gold, silver and bronze awards are also given to runners-up based on a student body’s level of involvement in the Special Olympics movement through Unified Sports, whole school engagement and inclusive youth leadership. Points are accrued for such activities as hosting and volunteering at a SOMO event, starting a Unified Sports team and fundraising, according to a press release from the organization.

“We strive to show others that not only are we all unique but it is our uniqueness that makes us a better team and better leaders,” wrote StuCo member Aaryn Johnson in the 25-page application. “…It shows that just because someone was made a little differently, doesn’t mean that they aren’t just as, if not more, capable than the rest.”

The Poplar Bluff School District has hosted the spring games at Fred M. Morrow Stadium for over a quarter-century, according to education officials. A school-wide sendoff is organized for the numerous PBHS student-athletes participating in the track and field events, featuring a police escort and cheering students.

StuCo volunteers at the event by hosting a Victory Village with games and prizes along with an after-party, and creates homemade signage for the student section. In addition to promoting and leading group discussions about SOMO, multiple fundraisers are held such as penny wars, novelty competitions and the annual Polar Plunge collectively serving to generate several hundred dollars.

Last school year, PBHS hosted its inaugural athletic letter banquet for SOMO participants, providing the student-athletes an opportunity to earn varsity letters. New this year, a Unified Champions club was launched so high schoolers of all abilities have opportunities to play sports together, explained Randolph. An inclusion day is celebrated on campus, featuring activities such as cornhole, cross country, dance, softball, soccer and soon, football and bocce ball.

Aaryn noted that StuCo has established meaningful roles for members with physical or intellectual disabilities. A ‘spread the word to end the word’ campaign was recently held, and school-wide assemblies and field trips are designed to be inclusive. “We love to help spread the message of unity and inclusion, because at PBHS we believe that everyone is important, no matter what obstacles they face and overcome,” the sophomore concluded.


Cutline: A representation of PBHS Student Council displays both individual and team awards including the prestigious School of Character plaque during the MASC convention held recently at Jefferson City High School.

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