Central one of two schools in state to receive award

Rick Jeffrey

WOODSTOCK – Central High School was awarded the Virginia Unified Champion School Award of Excellence during an assembly Wednesday morning.

The award is granted to the top schools in the state that demonstrate inclusion and respect for students with disabilities through programs, initiatives and community acceptance. Central High School was chosen as one of two schools in Virginia to receive this award.

Superintendent Mark Johnston said he is thrilled the school received the award because it recognizes the hard work of the staff, student body and volunteers.

“It shows the spirit of real cooperation and understanding and relationships,” he added. “I think it represents the culture of our school.”

Rick Jeffrey, president and regional director of Special Olympics Virginia, said Central High School is a model for inclusion that every other school in the state, and country, should strive to achieve.

“You’re a model for all schools,” he said.

Jeffrey noted that the school was awarded the Virginia Unified Champion School Award of Excellence because of its awareness and leadership efforts to treat individuals with disabilities with respect and include them in activities, both inside and outside of school.

He said the campaign to stop the use of the word “retard” has been successful at the school. That word, he added, has the connotation of meaning “not good enough” and needs to be rejected from everyday language.

Students with and without disabilities are teaming up to spread awareness, Jeffrey said, and have spoken throughout the state and country to bring more inclusion to school activities and sports.

“Inclusion is about relationships,” he said. “It’s about meaningful involvement.”

He said he has seen a school community of respect, inclusion and unity at Central High School.

He also thanked Megan Smith, Central High School special education teacher and Area 4 local coordinator for the Special Olympics, for being a part of Special Olympics since she was a middle school student, and using what she learned then in her classroom today.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com