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January 2024 NEWFOUNDLAKELIFE.COM Page 7 Plymouth Regional High: A Winning Team! Community
 Unified Excellence Earns ESPN and Local Recognitions
By Donna rhoDes
PLYMOUTH – Over the past 13 years, Plymouth Regional High School has received many acco- lades and won several state awards for their Unified Sports and other inclusive activities, but this year, they upped their programs and, as a result, received not only a na- tional banner to hang in the school but special recognition from ESPN as well.
On Dec. 15th, the entire student body, faculty, and staff assembled in the gym for the pre- sentations. Presenting the newest national banner on behalf of Spe- cial Olympics USA was Special Olympics New Hampshire repre- sentative Leisa D’Amour.
“We at Special Olympics are proud of the example you have set for inclusion and acceptance of all,” she said.
Like the SONH Champion School award, which they re- ceived in 2020-21, the National Champion School award also has ten points of criteria that each entry must exhibit in order to be recognized. Primary requirements include a Special Olympics Uni- fied Sports program for students with and without disabilities, training, and competing together as teammates. Since starting their program with a Unified Basketball team 13 years ago, PRHS added a soccer team three years ago. They currently have 41 students on the basketball team and 27 students who took the newer soccer team to an exciting undefeated season this fall.
Besides sports, Special Educa-
tion teacher and Head Coach for the program Danee Dalphonse said in an earlier interview earlier that she led the students in form- ing a Unified Club four years ago and just this year PRHS began a Unified Physical Education class. Next semester, the school will be adding a Unified Art Class open to all, and in the 2023-24 school year, students will be able to sign up for a Unified Wellness class, too.
In addition to that, Dalphonse also promotes leadership by ac- companying two of her students to a Youth Summit each year.
“We work hard to be unified for all our activities,” Dalphonse said. That togetherness flows into many other activities, such as the upcoming Penguin Plunge in Feb- ruary. Over the past two years, PRHS has raised several thousand dollars for SONH. Dalphonse said thirty percent of the money they raise for the statewide organization is given back to them so they can continue to build inclusionary pro- grams and opportunities at their
However, the accolades during
their most recent celebration didn’t end with just a new Na- tional Champion School banner. D’Amour also was on hand to present the school with yet another award.
Each year, ESPN looks over the list of National Unified Champion recipients and selects the schools they find to have been dedicated to not only the Unified program but to the inclusion of all students in their school and community.
D’Amour then read the letter
On Dec. 15th, Plymouth Regional High School was excited to receive two national recognitions for their Unified Sports and other inclusionary programs for students of all capabilities. Joining them for the special presentations were Leisa D’Amour of Special Olympics New Hampshire, athletes and members of the PRHS Unified Programs, Head Unified Coach Danee Dalphonse, school administrative and staff members, local law enforcement supporters and of course, the school’s beloved Bobcat mascot. Photo by Donna Rhodes
 SONH received regarding the Plymouth Regional High School inclusive programs and activities.
“On behalf of all the employ- ees at ESPN, we would like to congratulate you on earning rec- ognition as an ESPN Honor Roll school,” it began. “There are over 9,000 Special Olympics Cham- pion Schools® across the United States that are dedicated to creat- ing climates of inclusion.”
Sent by ESPN Chair Jimmy Pi- taro, the letter went on to say that Special Olympic Sports are the core of this movement and ESPN is “proud to be the Global Present- ing Sponsor of Special Olympics Unified Sports.”
He commended PRHS for meeting the ten standards of ex- cellence that make them a nation- ally recognized participant.
“Through Unified Sports par- ticipation, whole school engage- ment, and providing opportunities for students of all abilities, Plym- outh Regional High School has
set a high standard of inclusion,”
Pitaro said.
In closing, he wrote, “You
should be incredibly proud of the important work you continue to do to make our world a more inclu- sive place. It is our hope that other schools will take notice of your efforts and follow your lead as a Unified Champion School.”
Following the reading of his let- ter, D’Amour handed Dalphonse and other school representatives a plaque from ESPN that will now be on display at PRHS.
As ceremonies came to a con- clusion, the excitement was far from over. After photos and con- gratulations, the Unified Basket- ball team then gathered courtside for a match-up against the faculty to show just how determined they are to work together, support each other, and be winners both on and off the playing field.
Besides sports, Dalphonse said the school and students involved in the Unified program continue to develop inclusionary practices at PRHS, striving to come up with
fresh ideas for future classes and activities where all can be involved. So far, they have several new pro- posals under consideration.
As the Feb. 28 date for the Pen- guin Plunge creeps closer though, they invite the public to help them meet this year’s goal of $5,000 for SONH and the Unified programs at PRHS. So far, $3,000 in dona- tions have been collected, ranking them 5th place out of 17 partici- pating schools across the state. The students are still working hard to make that number rise as they strive to climb to Number One in their fundraising this year and hopefully surpass that initial goal.
To make an online donation in support of this worthy cause, go to sonh/fundraisers/plymouthre- gionalhs and help. For other ways to contribute, please contact the school at 603-536-1444 or send a check with the notation “Pen- guin Plunge” to PRHS, 86 Old Ward Bridge Rd., Plymouth, N.H. 03264.
   Your “Favorite” Decorator ~ Jodie Favorite ~
Office: 603-744-9433 Bristol, NH Cell: 603-738-3399

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