In the bustling halls of Prairie High School, located in the heart of Battleground School District, a remarkable story of dedication and inclusivity unfolded at the end of March. The school, known for its spirited community and commitment to equality, received one of the highest honors a school can achieve in the sphere of inclusive education: the National Banner Status from Special Olympics North America. This prestigious recognition is not just a symbol; it’s a testament to the school’s relentless pursuit of an environment where every student has a place, a role, and a voice.

The journey to this achievement was marked by an assembly that was anything but ordinary. The entire school community came together in celebration, their faces alight with pride as the National Banner was unveiled and took its rightful place in the school’s legacy. The assembly wasn’t just a ceremony but a vibrant celebration of the unity and spirit that had earned Prairie High School this honor. Those who wish to relive the moment can view the highlights and hear from the hearts of those who made it possible through a video here.

Prairie High School’s story is particularly significant as it marks them as the second school in the Columbia River Area to achieve this status, joining a league of schools that serve as beacons of inclusivity and champions of the Unified movement.

This celebration of inclusivity extends beyond Prairie High School. Special Olympics Washington also celebrates the resilience and dedication of three other schools across the state. Kamiak High School in the Mukilteo School District, Fife High School in the Fife School District, and North Thurston High School in the North Thurston School District have all successfully reapplied to receive the National Banner Status after their initial four-year term. This renewal is a badge of their ongoing commitment to maintaining rigorous standards of inclusion and community building.

Recognition is also due to these additional National Banner schools across Washington, steadfast in their commitment to inclusivity. These schools include:

  • Bellevue: St. Madeleine Sophie School
  • Buckley: White River High School
  • Lacey: Timberline High School
  • Nine Mile Falls: Lakeside High School
  • Olympia: River Ridge High School
  • Puyallup: Puyallup High School
  • Renton: Liberty High School
  • Tacoma: Woodrow Wilson High School
  • Vancouver: Skyview High School

Each of these schools has exemplified a commitment to creating inclusive environments where all students, regardless of ability, are welcomed, valued, and have opportunities to participate in a range of activities that enhance their school experience.

What does it mean for a school to hold the National Banner Status? It’s a recognition that places them at the forefront of the inclusion movement within education. To achieve this, schools must meet ten national standards of excellence that encompass a range of inclusive practices, from fully inclusive sports programs to youth leadership initiatives that empower students with and without disabilities to drive change together.

Special Olympics Washington remains immensely proud of these schools’ ability to not just meet but exceed these standards, continually fostering environments where students from all walks of life can feel connected and respected.

As more schools in Washington and across the nation look to these exemplars, Special Olympics Washington encourages a broader reflection on how every community can become more inclusive, creating spaces where every individual can thrive. By supporting initiatives that promote diversity and inclusivity, and by celebrating each step forward, we contribute to a more unified and accepting world.

This ongoing story of inclusion and celebration in Washington schools is more than a series of events—it’s a powerful narrative of what it means to live unified, not just in schools but across communities everywhere.