The Wilcox High School gym was packed with spectators from both Santa Clara and Wilcox High Schools on Thursday, March 7. People were standing around the gym just so they could be there. The size of the crowd helped make the collective cheers loud enough to make it seem like the gym shook each time a point was scored in the basketball games. Each end of the gym featured a cheer squad from their respective high school.
However, Wilcox and Santa Cara weren’t playing against each other. The familiar faces from the Chargers’ and Bruins’ girls basketball teams were present, but instead of donning their schools’ jerseys, they wore the zebra stripes as referees for the tournament.
The students were there to support and cheer on the athletes taking part in three basketball games as part of the Schools Partnership Program. The games were put on by the Wilcox’s and Santa Clara’s Special Education departments in assistance with Special Olympics of Northern California.
More than 30 student athletes and 20 student coaches, along with both cheer squads, took part in the event.
Featured in over 300 schools, the Schools Partnership Program is run by the Special Olympics of Northern California. It is a unique education program designed to unify students with and without disabilities through sports and whole school involvement to create and sustain school communities that promote inclusion, acceptance and respect for all students.
According to Angie Scott, a teacher on special assignment for physical education with the Santa Clara Unified School District, “This is our first event, but we hope it to be a yearly event. There is a possibility of adding a fall or spring event next year.”
The March event was the first of three events with the next two taking place in April. The program will be at Braly Elementary School on April 1 and will feature a soccer skills program in conjunction with Hughes, Haman and Montague Schools from 10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. On April 11, the program will feature track and field activities at Peterson’s Track from 9:30 – 11 a.m. along with Cabrillo and Buchser Middle Schools.