LIHUE — Mollie Bruhl, Special Olympics Unified Schools manager for Hawaii, said Bill Arakaki was the first Department of Education person on a superintendent level she’s met.
“Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School is one of three in the state to have earned the Special Olympics national banner Unified Champion School award,” said Bruhl. “I was over in Hilo, Hawaii to present a school there and no one from the Department of Education showed up. There is a lot of support here.”
Bruhl was joined by Kauai Special Olympics coordinator Jocelyn Barriga in presenting the school its national banner for display for its commitment toward acceptance, respect, and inclusion for all by meeting 10 national standards of excellence.
These standards include Special Olympics Unified Sports, Inclusive Youth Leadership, and Whole-School Engagement.
The presentation was done before an assembly of nearly a thousand students.
“Your school community has shown impressive determination and is helping us move toward our collective goal of creating a truly ‘Unified Generation’ of young people who embrace differences and lead social change,” said Timothy Shriver, chairman of Special Olympics International in a letter presented to the CKMS.
“You are literally redefining the future as you make your communities more inclusive of people with intellectual disabilities, and in doing so, making the world a more acceptable place for all,” he sadded.
Debra Badua, CKMS principal, and Arakaki made the special presentation, adding another surprise by announcing Amanda Fretto, a Team Unified instructor, as Kauai’s Teacher of the Year.
“This is so appropriate,” Bruhl said. “We at Special Olympics also had a special certificate to present to Amanda, and now it works out because she is the Kauai Teacher of the Year.”
Arakaki said Fretto will be representing the Kauai Area Complex at the state Teacher of the Year recognition later this year.