SMSD Team, Superintendent Take the Polar Plunge

SMSD Team, Superintendent Take the Polar Plunge
Shawnee Mission School District

Teams from the Shawnee Mission School District (SMSD) braved the cold for a good cause, jumping into a wintry Lake Olathe on Saturday, March 5.

They were taking part in the Kansas City Polar Plunge, an event that raises funds for Special Olympics Kansas. Click here to see a video.

This year, in partnership with Kansas State High School Activities Association and Special Olympics Kansas, Shawnee Mission high schools now all offer Unified Sports. The program gives students of all abilities an opportunity to compete in sports together. 

Superintendent Dr. Michelle Hubbard joined the Polar Plunge, at the invitation of the team from Shawnee Mission West, saying she sees numerous benefits for all participants because it gives every student an opportunity to rally together and brings a sense of community.

“As a previous special education teacher it is very near and dear to my heart,” Dr. Hubbard said.

Mehki Knight, SM West senior, hopes to be a coach someday and says he enjoys being involved with students in special education at his school. He also took the Polar Plunge. 

“I really like helping the kids and seeing the smile on their faces,” Knight expressed. “Being able to play sports and help teach them makes me really happy.”

Special Olympics Kansas is a non-profit that works to provide training and competition for children and adults with disabilities “giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community,” according to the Special Olympics website.

Though some high schools have offered Unified Sports previously, this was the first year Unified Bowling was offered in every SMSD high school and the first year Kansas hosted a state championship tournament.

Unified Sports is an excellent opportunity because it helps break down barriers for students, Sherry Dumolien, director of special education shared. She also joined the SM West team that jumped in frigid waters.

“It creates an opportunity for two worlds that maybe wouldn’t always collide,” Dumolien added.

Shawnee Mission South also had a team plunging in Support of Special Olympics.

Seeing support from across the district, through donations and Plunge participants was very appreciated, Amy Mesa, Shawnee Mission West special education teacher shared.

“It shows we’re committed to including everybody,” Mesa added.

The Polar Plunge is a nationwide event that raises funds for the Special Olympics. “The Polar Plunge for Special Olympics Kansas is the state’s largest fundraiser that aims to keep athletes with disabilities on the playing field year round,” according to the Polar Plunge Kansas website.