Special Olympians earn gold medals

Shawn Hardy
Amanda Jones, Stefanie Glessner and David Dussuau from the life skills support class at Greencastle-Antrim High School sport the medals they won during the Pennsylvania Special Olympics at Penn State.

Three students in the life skills support class at Greencastle-Antrim High School brought home medals and memories from the Pennsylvania Special Olympics held May 31 to June 2 in State College.

It's been a number of years since G-A was represented at the state level, but local teachers hope to change that.

Amanda Jones, Stefanie Glessner and David Dussuau didn't just get to compete, they stayed in the dorms at Penn State, ate in the dining halls and met other students from Franklin County and across the state, according to Connie Caldwell, a learning support teacher from G-A, whose her husband, Tom, is the area manager for the Franklin County Special Olympics. She coached the athletes then accompanied them to State College. Life skills support teacher Jan McClain also was instrumental in getting the students ready both for the county Special Olympics in May and the state event.

"There are a lot of really cool experiences, camaraderie outside the classroom and they're getting some exercise,"Caldwell said.

Each competed in three events and each earned two golds and a silver.

David Dussuau — Gold: standing long jump and softball throw. Silver: 100-meter run

Amanda Jones — Gold: standing long jump and 50-meter run. Silver: softball throw

Stefanie Glessner — Gold: 50-meter run and standing long jump. Silver: 100-meter run

They had a great time, a fun time and are looking forward to going back, Joann Papoutsis, director of special education, told Greencastle-Antrim School Board members at their June 15 meeting.

"It was an activity where they were beasts," Papoutsis said. "They were confident and it was a great life experience."

"We want to grow the program," said Caldwell, who is looking for coaches, volunteers and facilities.

The Chambersburg Area School District has an active Special Olympics program, but it is hard for Greencastle kids to get there.

"We're hoping to have more regular practices and introduce new sports," Caldwell said.

Special Olympics athletes run from 8 years old through adults and the sports just aren't track and field, but range from volleyball to bocce ball.

"It's a really cool program even as they transition out of high school," Caldwell said. She added that some of the Special Olympians also come back and coach younger athletes.

For more information about the Special Olympics and getting involved, call Tom Caldwell at 814-932-7091 or visit www.sopafranklin.org