Weekly roundup: Student-athletes unite, OC Fair’s Imaginology festival, awards, competitions and more

What started as a Special Olympics Unified Sports program at Trabuco Hills High has scaled up districtwide.

As the Orange County Register reported this week, the Saddleback Valley Unified School District recently brought together more than 250 student-athletes with and without intellectual and physical disabilities to participate in flag football games, cheer, soccer matches and track events.

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It was all part of Unified Sports, a Special Olympics initiative that encourages athletes to learn sports, refine their athletic skills, experience inclusion and form new friendships.

Trabuco Hills High became the first Unified Champion School in Orange County in 2015. But other SVUSD campuses have since launched similar programs, and April 4 marked the first time a Special Olympics Unified Sports event was held districtwide.

“The unified movement kind of goes from ‘We’re buddies’ to ‘We’re classmates’ to ‘We’re teammates and we’re friends,’” special education teacher Kara Johnson told the Register.

Here are some more stories from the week ending April 12:

  • The OC Fair’s three-day Imaginology festival kicks off Friday, April 12 in Costa Mesa and continues through the weekend. The event features hands-on STEM activities, workshops and competitions for kids and teens — and will introduce an eSports Playground this year.
  • Two student teams are sharing a giant, high-altitude balloon to help answer scientific questions — like if wireless charging works at 100,000 feet and whether liquids such as antifreeze and kerosene will freeze at such a height.
  • A team from Estancia High bested squads from nine area high schools at the Southern California Building Industry Association’s annual “Design/Build” competition, which challenged students to construct a tilt-roof garden shed with a Dutch door, window, vent and flower box.
  • John Albert, principal of California Elementary School in Orange Unified, was named an Apple Distinguished Educator for its 25th anniversary class of 2019, joining more than 2,400 ADEs in 45 countries. The program was created by Apple in 1994 to recognize educators who use the company’s technology to “transform teaching and learning.”
  • And finally, a trio of educational leaders from Huntington Beach and Tustin has earned statewide honors through the Association of California School Administrators’ annual awards program.

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