A big celebration is planned next month to recognize Brighton High School’s Brighton Unified team, its coaches, players, for being named one of five exemplary high schools in the nation.

The honor comes through the ESPN Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools' National Recognition Program. ESPN will arrive at the high school on Oct. 17th for two days of activities, among them a pep rally and an assembly. Brighton Area Schools Superintendent Greg Gray tells WHMI that at that time ESPN will present the award, and a national banner, to Brighton High School.

Gray says the occasion will be an opportunity for the Brighton Area Schools to demonstrate for ESPN what the district has accomplished, particularly in the area of inclusion of all students in its program.

Unified Champion Schools incorporate Special Olympics sports, leadership and related activities that empower students to be agents of change in their communities. In the program, special education and regular education students work together to create supportive classrooms, school-wide activities and opportunities for growth and success for all.

The Brighton Unified squads play three sports: flag football, basketball and bocce ball. In the sports, special and regular education students play on the same team, and Gray says the camaraderie between students on the team - who may be very different in some ways - is evident. The program is now in its third year. Gray adds that the games draw huge crowds, and being part of the activities – whether as a spectator or playing on the team – is a rewarding and enjoyable experience. (TT)