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Postlethwait Middle School recognized by ESPN

Delaware News Desk
"Students learn from one another," says Kristina Failing, principal at Postlethwait Middle School in Delaware. "Most importantly, the students learn that they are truly more alike than different."

Caesar Rodney School District’s F. Neil Postlethwait Middle School was named a Top 5 Unified Champion School by ESPN and Special Olympics as chosen by a “National Certifying Body” made up of key educational leaders. 

In two years, Postlethwait Middle went from beginning the planning process of incorporating the Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools program into the core values of its school, to receiving the program’s highest honor.

“For the last several years, Postlethwait Middle School has embraced the vision that care, kindness, and respect are essential components of every thriving community,” said Postlethwait Principal Kristina Failing. “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 — one of eight Delaware schools to do so since 2018 — by completing the application process last spring. The school, which includes grades six through eight, 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,” said teacher and coach Katie Wisniewski. “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 5 honoree for 2020. The other four schools — three high schools and a university — receiving 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 Kevin Fitzgerald, superintendent of the Caesar Rodney School District. “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 motto 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.”

Read ESPN’s announcement at es.pn/3dwy3eF.