Royal Oak High School A Unified Champion School

Royal Oak High School A Unified Champion School
Posted on 02/03/2023
Unified Basketball

Royal Oak Schools is proud to announce that Royal Oak High School has been named a Unified Champion School by the Michigan Special Olympics.

The Special Olympics describes a Unified Champion school as an education and sports-based strategy powered by an engaged student community that breaks down the barriers that separate students with and without intellectual disabilities.

Royal Oak students play in many unified sports games typically held between JV and Varsity games. The teams are made up of pairs of male and female students with and without disabilities. They partner for optimal performance on the court.

Head Coach Jim Hutton said that many coaches are involved with this team, including paraprofessionals, school social workers, and teachers. Andrew Wright and Elizabeth Reynolds are also part of the coaching team. They have been coaching basketball since the team started in 2019 and are also the coaches of the Unified Soccer program that was added this school year.

“It's an extremely positive experience seeing the growth from the students who may not have gotten their time to shine, and seeing the smiles on the faces of the parents and classmates supporting them," Hutton said. "The students are developing lifelong skills on the court that can transfer to the classroom,” he added.

Students on the team get a chance to represent their school, earn a Varsity letter, experience team travel and banquets, practice, and learn teamwork. The teams have a full schedule and play four 6-minute quarters just before the Varsity basketball game.

“To me, unified sports is the purest form of athletics; every one that participates benefits from it, from the players to the officials to the parents and the fans,” said Royal Oak Schools Director of Activities and Athletics Brian Gordon. “In my 33 years, this is my favorite sport to watch, and it’s made a huge difference with how kids have been embraced as student-athletes just like anybody else,”

Gordon added that the school board, superintendent, and the entire administration at Royal Oak have been 100% on board and see the value this brings to the community and all students participating.

The banner raising ceremony was on February 7.