SHHS hosts Special Olympics

by Town Reminder

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SHHS hosts Special Olympics

By Gregory A. Scibelli
Turley Correspondent

SOUTH HADLEY – South Hadley High School hosted local students Thursday for the Winter Special Olympics.
The high school gymnasium was full of activity, with students from South Hadley, Granby, Belchertown, Northampton and Ware participating in various basketball challenges, including full-fledged games. Another area had the students bowling.
In the end, everyone was a winner and medals were given to all the participants.
Pam Soderbaum, who works in special education in the South Hadley school district, said the games have been an excellent way to get special education students into the spotlight.
“They get to have a different type of fun,” said Soderbaum. “It allows them to show their skills in front of their parents and to interact with the mainstream students in the district.”
Soderbaum said the event requires a lot of teamwork and coordination. She recruited high school volunteers to help out, specifically the school’s basketball teams.
“This has been a really popular event for the families to come see their kids, see them play and take pictures,” Soderbaum said. “The kids get to build it up and they will continue to talk about it.”
Sophie Gatzounas, a sophomore member of the girls varsity basketball team, said she enjoys spending time with the special education students and giving them an opportunity to have fun playing the game she loves.
“It’s a lot fun and it’s also great for my team,” said Gatzounas. “We all get to bond and it is great community service.”
Boys basketball’s leading scorer Cam Earle also enjoyed the day.
“We want to try and be upbeat and positive for the kids that come here,” said Earle. “We want them to come in and have a good time.”
Soderbaum said she was happy the high school was able to accommodate the event.
“The high school gyms have more space and allow us to do more things and spread everyone out,” said Soderbaum. “It worked out really well for us.”
Elizabeth Cohen, a teacher at Ware High School, praised the program at South Hadley.
“Our kids have had a great time here,” she said. “The volunteers were fantastic and jumped right in there with our kids. I’m really impressed.”
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TOP: Sam Gawron, left, and Tara Bainbridge, right, show Kyle Kane of Ware some dribbling tricks. BOTTOM: Conor Burzgren, 14, of Ware, plays a cup game; Julia Miele runs alongside Tessa Berard of South Hadley; Jacqueline Boucher, 13, picks up a basket for her team.