SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) –A Sioux Falls high school is getting national attention. ESPN has named Roosevelt High School in Sioux Falls as a Special Olympics Unified Champion School. Roosevelt students are being recognized for their unified activities and inclusion.

The all-school assembly had the feel of something special. Even the Mayor was on hand to help unveil a banner naming Roosevelt as an inclusive school. The school supports programs that pair students with disabilities with traditional students, like The Buddies program.

“You are leaders when it comes to inclusion, and that’s what this is all about,” The Special Olympics Julie Briggs told the crowd. The activities include several sports and a mixed show choir. This choir has been nationally recognized, and a composer actually created a song for them.

“It’s all about kids, coming together those with and without disabilities and understanding each other and knowing that they can do things together and it is awesome and they build friendships,” said Briggs.

It was a basketball game that got the place rocking.

Each student with a disability partnered with a buddy for the game and the shear joy of the moment filled the Roosevelt Gym.

McKenzie Johansson was one of the stars of today’s event.

Tom “You got 12?

“We got 12 points.”

How many did you score?

“A Lot!” She said.

A proud Principal, Tim Hazlett organized and hosted the event.

“So I thought it was important enough to bring it in front of everyone today.
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“I think it is really pertinent in a time when it seems like there is a lot of strife and fighting that we most people are really good in acceptance of one another in general and we don’t have to be so separated,” said Hazlett.

Kids with disabilities no longer sitting on the sidelines, instead, they’re forming friendships and being included.

The only other high school in the state to earn the award is Castlewood High School, which is south of Watertown. USD also carries the distinction.