IGNITE Spring 2019 - Page 17

Beyond sharing school grounds, the two schools have a history of shared programming. The students attend monthly Masses together and participate in the Best Buddies program, where students from each school are paired and given opportunities to develop friendships through group activities and outings. The schools see the bocce team as an opportunity to broaden their interscholastic programming and further develop their relationship. “We want our students to be treated as equal peers. And that’s happening through Unified Bocce Ball. General education students and students with special needs come together to form one team where everybody is treated equally,” says Kathleen Gould, Director of Special Education at the Office of Catholic Education (OCE). Meet the Student­— Athletes Archbishop John Carroll High School Fatima Brown (senior) Madigan Gallagher (senior) Mirabelle Gallagher (sophomore) Mikayla Kloc (sophomore) Elizabeth Woodland (freshman) St. Katherine School Rose ‘Muffy’ Tulskie (20 years old) Matt Rodgers (17 years old) Matt McKeon (17 years old) “Everybody carries their own weight and is part of that team,” Gould continues. “Not only does this promote independence for our students with special needs, but it also promotes awareness for everybody—to show abilities and not disabilities.” The team practices twice a week for 60 to 90 minutes, following Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) bylaws. PIAA also requires that no more than 60 percent of the team be composed of either general education or special education students. “We have been very fortunate to develop a great working relationship with Mike Bovino at Special Olympics Pennsylvania, which provided funding for uniforms, a coaching stipend and the materials to set-up the bocce court,” explains Executive Director of Athletics at OCE, Stephen Haug. “In addition, Tom Quintois, Archbishop Carroll Athletic Director, has been a tremendous asset to this endeavor and was very familiar with Unified Sports from his previous work experience at Souderton High School.” 17