Maine South was one of the thirty-eight schools recognized this year as a national banner school. We are one of four high schools in Illinois to receive this recognition.
Maine South has been recognized as having an inclusive school climate through its sense of collaboration, engagement, and respect for all. A Unified Champion School receiving national banner recognition is one that has demonstrated commitment to inclusion by meeting 10 national standards of excellence. These standards were developed by a national panel of leaders from Special Olympics and the education community.
The primary activities within these standards include: Special Olympics Unified Sports® (where students with and without disabilities train and compete as teammates), Inclusive Youth Leadership and Whole-School Engagement. Banner Unified Champion Schools are also able to demonstrate they are self-sustainable and have a plan in place to sustain these activities into the future.
Along with the Hawk Pals Unified club who meets monthly, Maine South has competed as a Unified Soccer and Dance team. We also have unified snowshoe and bowling weekly practices. Maine South has been attending the Special Olympics Illinois Unified Champion Schools Youth Activation Summit for the past three years. We have had student presenters and now we have a pair co-chairing this conference, in which sixty other students will attend, learn leadership skills and take ideas back to their home schools on how they can make a bigger impact at their school. Maine South has many whole school engagement opportunities. The mostly widely known are the activities that happen during RESPECT Week. During this week the Hawk Pals club hosts karaoke in the cafe, provides access to photo booths, develops a freshmen focus lesson on RESPECT, and coordinates a schoolwide signing of the ‘Spread the Word to End the Word’ banner. Like all other teams and clubs in the school, Hawk Pals and Special Olympics have been recognized in whole school assemblies, the yearbook, the newspaper, and in send off parades with the band which occur when going to state. Maine South takes P.R.I.D.E. in being an inclusive school.