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Clear Spring High School Earns National Recognition from Special Olympics

Posted October 6, 2023

Clear Spring High School is being recognized as a Special Olympics National Banner Unified Champion School for its efforts to provide inclusive sports and activities for all students.  The recognition, which was only bestowed on 10 schools across Maryland this year, is a result of Clear Spring High School meeting national standards of excellence in the areas of inclusion, advocacy, and respect.  In recognition of the honor, the school will receive a banner to be hung on campus and be included on a list of schools from across the nation who have earned the recognition.   

This marks the second time Clear Spring has received the honor.  In 2020, Clear Spring was recognized as a member of Maryland’s inaugural class of Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools who earned national banner recognition.  Math teacher and Unified coach Erin Wadel as well as family and consumer science teacher and Best Buddies advisor Melissa Cullers led the effort to have the school recertified as a Special Olympics National Banner Unified Champion School.  

Clear Spring Principal Amanda Mulledy says, “I’m extremely proud to have our school receive this recognition again because it acknowledges us as a place that has developed a strong sense of inclusion, togetherness, and unity.  Our Unified sports and Best Buddies programs positively impact the students involved and our entire school community.  You can’t help but smile when you see students from all walks of life participating in activities together, building friendships, and celebrating success.”  

Washington County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. David Sovine adds, “It is an honor to have Clear Spring High School recognized nationally as a place where all students have the opportunity to engage in a variety of activities regardless of any obstacles they may face.  The entire Clear Spring staff is to be commended for working together to provide opportunities for all students and helping them find their unique place in the school community.  Creating such a supportive environment is critical to all students learning and being successful.” 

Clear Spring’s Unified sports program features tennis in the fall, bocce in the winter, and track and field in the spring.  Approximately 40-50 students participate.  In addition, the school has a Best Buddies club which works to help build social skills and friendships between students as they work together on projects and plan inclusive, meaningful activities and events.  

Nearly 8,000 schools across the country, including more than 250 in Maryland, currently participate in Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools programming.   Research has found the model, which is supported by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, to be an effective and replicable means of providing students with and without disabilities the opportunity to form positive social relationships.  It also helps promote a socially inclusive school climate.