CR’s Postlethwait Middle School receives a Special honor

CAMDEN — It didn’t take very long Postlethwait Middle School to build one of the top Special Olympic Unified sports program in the country.

Just two years after starting its program, the Caesar Rodney school has been named a Top Five Unified Champion School by ESPN and Special Olympics as chosen by a national certifying body made up of key educational leaders.

The award is considered the highest honor for schools that have incorporated the Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools program into its core values.

“For the last several years, Postlethwait Middle School has embraced the vision that care, kindness, and respect are essential components of every thriving community,” Postlethwait Principal Dr. Kristina Failing said in a press release. “Special Olympics has allowed us to take our vision to the next level by providing the opportunity to ensure that each and every member of our community knows that they belong and are valued.”

Postlethwait earned its National Banner award — making it one of eight Delaware schools to do so since 2018 — by completing a rigorous application process last spring. The school demonstrated its commitment to student-led inclusion by meeting 10 standards of excellence in the components of Unified sports, inclusive youth leadership and whole-school engagement.

“Unified Champion Schools at our school is truly run by the students,” teacher Katie Wisniewski said in a press release. “With guidance and support from the administration and staff, Postlethwait students lead the way — making decisions, designing opportunities and creating an environment that encourages everyone to join.”

Postlethwait is the only middle school Top Five honoree for 2020. The other four schools — three high schools and a university — which received the honor are located in Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico and Vermont.

“The Caesar Rodney School District is extremely proud of our Special Olympics athletes, Unified athletes and their partners,” said Caesar Rodney superintendent Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald. “I believe that this state and national recognition is indicative of the inclusive environment created by the staff and students at Postlethwait and is truly reflective of their moto of ‘Care, Kindness and Respect.’

“I also want to congratulate Special Olympics Delaware for the great job they have done in supporting our students. When each of our students can enjoy success and feel a sense of accomplishment by having competed and given their best effort, we all succeed.”

Special Olympics is working with all five schools and ESPN to plan a special celebration.

“It has been breathtaking to receive the National Unified Champion Schools Banner and the ESPN Top 5 award,” said Failing. “It affirms for our students, Unified partners and athletes that they have been putting their efforts in the right direction. These awards are great, but even more phenomenal is that we are a school that believes in welcoming others and making sure they are involved in every aspect of our school. We could never, nor would we ever want to, go back to life without Special Olympics.”