Walpole High Participates in Annual Special Olympics Bocce Tournament

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WHS students participated in the bocce tournament.

Lucy Lynch

WHS students participated in the bocce tournament.
WHS students participated in the bocce tournament.

Recently, the Massachusetts Association of Student Councils (MASC) and Special Olympics formed an educational partnership geared towards leadership, unity, and inclusion among highschoolers across the state. This ¨Inclusion Revolution,¨ a motto dubbed by MASC, has resulted in multiple statewide events that promote stronger relationships among high school students, especially student council members and special education students. Movements like ¨Spread the Word to End the Word” and MASC’s annual Bocce Tournament have been proven to be successful events for both associations.

This year, Walpole High School Student Council and students from its Best Buddies program attended the second annual Bocce tournament for Southeastern and Central Massachusetts on Sunday, November 17 at Grafton High School. The goal of the Bocce tournament is for student council officers and their Best Buddies friends to enjoy a day of friendly competition and encourage participants to meet new friends and make lasting bonds, stressing the event’s principle of inclusion.

The morning began in the Grafton High School auditorium with an opening ceremony conducted by Grafton Student Council President Caitlyn O’Malley and Massachusetts Association of Student Councils President Jacqui Manning. They introduced the towns who were competing with teams, which included Walpole, and the towns who arrived for the sole purpose of adding spirit as fans. After one of Grafton’s own special education students sang the National Anthem, the games were set to begin.

Walpole had two groups competing—the green team and the purple team. On the green team were juniors Kody McCann and Claudia Schoenthaler, senior Robbie Lederman, and Best Buddies participant Ryan Cisternelli. The purple team members were juniors Annie Gallivan and Lucy Lynch, senior Harrison Berkland, and Best Buddy Eric Folan. Overall, both teams were successful as McCann’s team finished with a handful of wins over host town Grafton and David Prouty High School.

Attendance at  Grafton High was significant for Walpole High as it was the first Special Olympics event that the Student Council has ever attended, and thus was a new experience for all who participated. Despite  not having a playoff round and having unnecessarily purchased an outdoor bocce set for an indoor tournament, most Walpole attendees thought highly of the event. Student Council treasurer Matt Brownsword said, “I was upset that there were no playoffs, but overall, I really enjoyed the tournament.”

Walpole’s attendance at the Bocce tournament shows how student councils across the state are making more of an effort to reach out to all students at their schools. Participating in these statewide events has become increasingly important to Walpole High School Student Council and its adviser Ms. Kerry McMenimen, who plans on attending the Bocce tournament in years to come. She said, “Since our school isn’t large enough to host this Special Olympics event, we definitely want to participate next year.”