Brennan Young is creating something very special at South Salem High School.

Young, a special education teacher and the Unified Programs Director, helped slate the Saxons to be the first school in the Salem-Keizer School District to partake in the Special Olympics Oregon Unified Sports program. There are now Unified Sports programs in every high school in the district as well as South Salem’s three feeder middle schools: Houck, Judson and Leslie Middle School. South Salem High School offers more than just Unified Sports programs, also including physical education, art, theater and robotics classes.

On Friday, Dec. 20, the red and white unified basketball teams went head-to-head in front of the entire student body. While the white team was up 14-10 at halftime, the game went down to the wire ending in an 18-18 tie. This assembly was put on to promote their upcoming Polar Plunge in February, 2020.

60 participants pledged to raise $5,000 for this event. Gabby, a student coordinator, noted that many people thought this might be too lofty of a goal. A big surprise to many, the students were able to raise over $6,000, with hopes of tripling their participation and doubling the money raised during the 2020-21 fundraiser.

“I’m so proud of our inclusive culture here at South,” Gabby said before putting on her Unified jersey and joining the game.

The Saxons were also presented with their Special Olympics National Unified Champion School banner, joining just 11 other schools in the state of Oregon with this distinction.

Congratulations, South Salem High School!