Unified Unites as a National Banner School


Emely Chairez

Members of unified activities accept Unified National Champion Banner School award. Students accepted banner from Special Olympics on Sept. 30.

Taylor Emmons, Writer

On Friday, Sept. 30 members of Southwest unified activities were recognized by the Special Olympics as a National Champion Banner School. The Silver Hawks were recognized for their achievements during an assembly in the Southwest auditorium. After the assembly took place, the Southwest and Southeast Unified activities were recognized again before the Varsity football game that took place that night. The members of unified were recognized as the Unified National Champion Banner Schools. 


“There are three series of requirements you have to meet throughout the year, but overall you have to have an inclusive and supporting environment where all are welcome,” senior Julia Haller. “At Southwest, we have a big and still growing community.”


Being a Unified National Champion Banner School, Southwest students and staff had both met the standard of inclusion and the 10 standards of national excellence.


 The 10 standards of national excellence are as follows:

  1. Unified Sports is offered in at least two seasons throughout the school year. 
  2. Unified Sports participation occurs regularly over the course of each sport season or school term and includes competition. 
  3. An adult coach for each sport who has received training in Special Olympics Unified Sports. 
  4. Unified Sports is officially recognized by the school in a similar style as other athletics/activities. 
  5. A Unified Club or student group offers leadership opportunities/training for students with and without intellectual disabilities. 
  6. The inclusive club/group meets at least once per month throughout the school year. 
  7. The inclusive club/group has an adult liaison and is officially recognized by the school in a similar style as other clubs/activities.
  8. At least two whole-school engagement activities are implemented per school year. 
  9. Students with and without disabilities are involved with planning and leading the awareness activities.
  10. The school is currently self-sustainable or has a plan in place to sustain the three components into the future. 


The main activities within this set of principles are Special Olympic Unified Sports and inclusive youth leadership as well as whole-school engagement. Lastly, Champion Schools should also be able to demonstrate that they have a plan to keep these activities around in the future. The expectations of this award were that the 10 standards are continuously being met and to ensure this sustainability, schools reapply for banner status every four years. 


“Our unified family hangouts are also a great way to meet new people and experience the unified community without any commitment. It is also great to talk to those in unified to get their experiences and more information,” senior Lilly Done said. “If you don’t have lots of time to commit to an activity, Unified Club is perfect because it is during school hours and isn’t open to anyone, anytime. Our unified family hangouts are also a great way to meet new people and experience the unified community without any commitment.” 


To be considered a Unified National Champion Banner School, Southwest has shown their self-sustainability with the many unified classes and clubs for people to be involved in. Unified clubs and classes that Southwest High School has include: Inclusive Cheer, Inclusive Yearbook, Special Olympics Unified Book Club, Unified Bowling, Unified Choir, Unified Club, Unified Council, Unified P.E. and Unified Track and Field.