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KCSD approves indoor bocce ball team

MILL HALL — At Thursday’s Keystone Central School voting meeting, the board unanimously approved Central Mountain High School to establish the Central Mountain Unified Indoor Bocce Team sponsored by Special Olympics PA Interscholastic Unified Sports.

Special Olympics PA Interscholastic Unified Sports is a fully inclusive co-ed after-school high school sports program which successfully brings together students with and without intellectual disabilities. Participating in athletics benefits both boys and girls in many ways including character development, fitness, teamwork, leadership, life skill development, and self-esteem. Special Olympics Pennsylvania and school districts throughout the state desire to support the environments in which all students feel welcomed, are accepted, and reach their maximum potential through a positive climate in which they learn and interact.

Len Rutecki, Autistic Support teacher at CMHS said: “The Central Mountain Unified Indoor Bocce Team will allow our Special Olympic athletes to experience pride and satisfaction of representing CMHS in interscholastic competition. This team will represent all that is possible and positive at Central Mountain High School.”

During the 2020-2021 school year, Special Olympics Pennsylvania will provide funding support, technical guidance through dedicated staff, and resources at Central Mountain High School. Only students enrolled in grades 9-12 are eligible, including anyone up to the age of 21 receiving services from the school district. Practices will begin Dec. 1 and the team will participate in a minimum of three competitions with their regular season ending the first week of March aligning with the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association winter sports season.

Creating programs like this is not without its struggles and one that Rutecki ran into was COVID-19 and the impact on trying to coordinate all of the people and agencies involved in getting the program up and running. Although creating programs comes with challenges, this program is really going to benefit the students at Keystone Central.

When asked what Rutecki was looking forward to most with the creation of this team, he said: “We are really looking forward to giving more students the opportunity to represent CMHS while participating in interscholastic competition. Creating an opportunity for our Special Olympic athletes to shine is beyond what words can describe.”

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