Only 155 schools receive honor nationally!
Two of Mid-Michigan's schools have garnered national recognition from Special Olympics International for demonstrating a commitment to inclusion. Lansing Everett High School and Howell High School, join Hartland High School, Meadow Brook Elementary (Grand Rapids) and Novi High School as being named National Banner Unified Champion Schools for 2020. These Michigan schools are among 155 schools across the nation to receive this recognition.
A Special Olympics Unified Champion School brings together students with and without intellectual disabilities through education, sports and youth leadership. Schools exhibit a commitment to an inclusive school climate that promotes a sense of collaboration, engagement and respect for all members of the student body and staff. Standards for determining a National Banner Unified Champion School are based upon the three overarching components that include Special Olympics Unified Sports where students with and without intellectual disabilities practice and compete together, Inclusive Youth Leadership and Whole-School Engagements. National Banner Unified Champion Schools should also be able to demonstrate they are self-sustainable or have a plan in place to sustain these activities in the future.
More than 350 Michigan schools currently take part in the Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools program with only a select few being honored as National Banner schools.
-Story & photo courtesy of SOMI
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There was a slight chill to the air, the grass was damp and fall rain was imminent but none of it mattered as the lights were bright and the field was green. It might have been crummy weather, but it was the perfect night to be back playing soccer. A varsity matchup that saw the Lansing Christian Pilgrims able to defeat the Leslie Blackhawks 5-2 in the unexpected Greater Lansing Activities Conference season opener.
“It feels amazing. My assistant and I were just talking, it’s been ten months since we’ve coached a game – and it has been a long ten months. Earlier this fall when football was kind of cancelled, we thought there was no way we were going to play.” Lansing Christian head coach Joel VandelKopple said postgame. “I told our guys before we played today there were so many athletes that last spring didn’t get a chance to finish out their careers; or whatever it was so just be happy you can play. They took that to heart and it was a good first game.
The game did take on a unique feel as this was one of the first games played under the Covid- Rules requiring limited audiences, social distancing in the boxes and that masks be worn by players at all times. That was along with the fact that the season was only given the go ahead to start last Thursday after much concern and debate.
“It feels good to be playing soccer, obviously it’s a lot different, it looks different and all the kids are fighting through playing with masks.” Leslie Blackhawk head coach Michael Compton commented. “Coming out of it we weren’t even expecting to necessarily play, until Thursday so to get the news last Thursday and then be playing a really good team in Lansing Christian was hard but we are definitely super excited to be playing.”
As for the game on the field it was a competitive battle of two of the better teams in the GLAC conference. Both teams took their time getting into the rhythm of game speed going scoreless through the first twenty minutes of play. Then the Pilgrims had three quick goals by their sophomores Elijah Ellis, Josh Myers and Judah Schafer. Youth is key to Lansing Christian and a big part of what coach VandeKopple credited that their program is all about.
“We are such a small school that we expect kids, even as freshman to contribute. Ellias, Josh and Judah scored those goals and we know they are talented players. We just told them at the beginning of the year you are going to have to step into the shoes of some of the guys that scored last year and so far, so good.”
That Pilgrims youth was balanced by their Senior center defender Sam Smith who dominated the game at times, especially in the early stretches of both halves. VandeKopple explained that in Smith uses his experience and patience to guide his teammates.
“We’ve got a very inexperienced back line right now around him and he just talking about everything with them; even before the game today he was going over this, that and the other thing. He (Smith) just makes everyone feel comfortable with their role.”
“There was just a lot of pressure coming on here. We’ve been preparing for weeks on this. We didn’t know how the first game was going to go. Fortunately, it went well for us. They’re a really good team. They were down a couple of players but their a really physical team so we’ve just got to prepare for that better.” Smith said after the match about his teammates and Blackhawk opponents.
Up next week for Lansing Christian are games against Eaton Rapids, Jackson Christian and Dansville, while Leslie is on the road against Grass Lake and Clinton, then at home against Perry.
Lansing Christian's Elijah Ellis & Judah Schafer Score Goals against Leslie
For a tennis season that was uncertain for a long time, one thing became clear very quickly. The Haslett Vikings are back and looking to improve on their sate finish last year. They opened up on the road against Lansing Catholic Wednesday morning and finished clean sweeping the match against the Cougars 8-0.
“It feels good to get the boys tennis season started across the state todays. Teams everywhere are competing and we are really excited to get it going with some new safety regulations that we are all trying to adapt. We are trying to be sage about the sport as well.” Haslett varsity head coach Henry Brunnschweiler commented. “We return a pretty solid team this year. We finished seventh in the state division three last year and our number one player, Ethan Fajardo, was our number two singles player last year. He’s a solid player who has been working really hard. We also have experience returning at our number one doubles in Logan Mowid, John Betten and a few other strong players that we have sprinkled in as well.”
Those veteran players led the way for the Vikings with Fajardo winning his match (7-5, 6-0) and the number one doubles combination of Mowid and Betten bested their opponents (6-2, 6-3).
“We didn’t have summer practices because everything was shut down, our courts were out of use. I didn’t start playing until about a month, month and a half ago.” Mowid commented post match. “I’m still pretty rusty but I got a little bit of time to get back into it. I expect a lot, we’re a good program so I think we can do pretty well in states this year – from a team that was seventh last year, so I have high hopes for the season.”
Lansing Catholic also has a bright season ahead of them. The Cougars number one doubles player Quinn Kuhnert remained grateful and optimistic despite the performance Wednesday. “It’s really nice - I mean I wasn’t really expecting to play tennis because of covid. It’s really nice to be out here even though it was a tough game it was really fun to be out here anyways. I think honestly, that we could go pretty far. I just want to go to states, that’s my dream. Maybe get high up in states – top five.”
Men's JR/SR 5k
1. Jonathan Mikovits 16:36.9 Concord
2. Noah Griffith 16:46.1 Olivet
3. Joe Bulko 17:11.4 Concord
4. Logan Barrett 17:13.7 Concord
5. Josh Frary 17:22.9 Lansing Catholic
6. Jalen Nelson 17:37.0 Dansville
7. Cameron Haraburda 17:45.6 Lansing Catholic
8. Graham Foster 17:53.5 Haslett
9. Matthew Jenness 18:04.1 Lansing Catholic
10. Chris Clover 18:06.7 Haslett
Women's JR/SR 5k
1. Abbey Peters 19:45.2 Olivet
2. Skylar Thompson 19:58.0 Concord
3. Danae Feldpausch 20:52.3 Olivet
4. Addison Puck 21:55.5 Lansing Catholic
5. Emily Sargent 21:58.4 Haslett
6. Adrianne Rector 22:13.1 Dansville
7. Annie Dudley 22:26.6 Lansing Catholic
8. Hailey Prokop 22:29.9 Lansing Catholic
9. Haylee Rinehart 22:45.4 Concord
10. Maddie Mays 23:02.0 Dansville
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WEBBERVILLE, Mich, The sun was warm, the skies were bright and the rough was unforgiving! It was the perfect day for golf and the Ladies of the CAAC Red took advantage opening in their season at Oak Lane in Webberville Thursday for the CAAC Jamboree, hosted by Fowlerville. The Haslett Viking lady golfers claimed the day winning the event 161-179 over St. Johns.
The Vikings picked up where they left off after they finished 7th in the state championships last year. It was little surprise that the Vikings were as strong as they were in the tourney after having returned many of the key players from last years state run.
“This was our first jamboree for our league tournament. We’ve got a good team; we have all the starters from the state championship team are back – plus we’ve got a good freshman. We just expect to be pretty good and to have some good showings in the league. We want some good showings in our regional and state finals this year.” Haslett head coach Chris Mory commented post match. “We’ve got some pretty good players who I think will shoot in the 30’s and 70’s this year. That’s a pretty good accomplishment for girls high school golf.”
One of those players for the Vikings is Senior Olivia Stoll, who tied for the lead in the Jamboree shooting a 38, which tied her with St. Johns Teagan Sanders. Haslett’s Sydney Dausman (39) and Mina Yoo (39) finished one shot behind the leaders.
“The event today was good; I’ve never played on the front nine on this course so going in blind I got really anxious. I don’t like going onto a course not knowing what’s ahead of me.” Stoll said of the event. “It honestly feels great. I’ve been playing in tournaments all summer so just to play in high school and to be with a team again feels good.”
Williamston’s Allison Kane (47), Mason’s Claire Heathman (48), and Fowlerville’s Annika Scott (48) were their teams individual leading scorers.
“Today I did well, it was one of our first tournaments so I’ll take it.” Fowlerville Junior Annika Scott, said after the event on her own efforts. “Just being out here, we are really thankful we even have a season this year and this fall. We are glad to be here but I’m hoping to improve my scores and go to states this year.”