Special Olympics Missouri staff is proud to recognize Pleasant Hope High School and its student council as the non-profit’s first School of Character Award of Merit recipient for the 2015-16 school year.
This award was established in conjunction with SOMO’s partnership with the Missouri Association of Student Councils to recognize those schools that went above and beyond for the athletes of Special Olympics Missouri and the students in their school who have an intellectual or developmental disability.
It is the highest level of recognition for one school in the state based on their outstanding commitment to individuals with intellectual disabilities, showing they have a true understanding of unity and a passion for raising awareness and funds for local SOMO athletes.
Schools can earn points based on a variety of different things, including:
- Hosting and/or volunteering at a local Special Olympics Missouri event
- Organizing a Young Athletes program for athletes ages 3-7
- Starting a Unified Sports team at your school where people without intellectual disabilities play on the same team as SOMO athletes who have an intellectual disability
- Having a student council member become a SOMO coach
- Raising funds through Over the Edge, Polar Plunge or any other fundraising initiative
Pleasant Hope High School was recognized at its May 12 board of education meeting by Trish Lutz, SOMO’s senior director of programs with a plaque presentation.
“Pleasant Hope High School has always been a strong supporter of Special Olympics Missouri,” Lutz said. “The students of Pleasant Hope High School lead by example through acceptance, respect and inclusion for all.
“Jacob Conklin deserves a tremendous amount of credit for instilling compassion and understanding into the students that he mentors.”
Conklin, Pleasant Hope’s student council advisor and special education teacher, was on-hand to accept the award with some of his students.
“It is inspiring to see young people so eager to serve and volunteer to benefit other people,” Conklin said. “For these students it is not about padding their college or scholarship applications, they volunteer because they have a passion, a belief, that they can help improve the lives of people around them.
“We have students that change their future goals after volunteering for Special Olympics Missouri. They want to become special education teachers, physical therapists, speech pathologists, coaches and mentors. I can’t help but think that the lessons these students learn volunteering are more impactful than the lessons learned in the classroom.”