The official student newspaper of Oak Park and River Forest High School

The Trapeze

The official student newspaper of Oak Park and River Forest High School

The Trapeze

The official student newspaper of Oak Park and River Forest High School

The Trapeze

Inclusion basketball is a slam dunk

OPRF Huskies charge on offense

On a Thursday morning in the Field House, surrounded by sounds of hoops swishing and the band blaring, students cheered on the Best Buddies inclusion basketball game.

This annual event took place on March 14 against Leyden High School. With a final score of 27-13, the Huskies were reigning champions.

“The OPRF victory brought the house down…it was so great to see everyone’s excitement,” said senior and Best Buddies officer Ava Konecki.

A school-wide event like this is an opportunity for the students of Oak Park and River Forest High School to “take a second to get away from the stresses of life and just enjoy being a part of something special,” said Rashad Singletary, a physical education and leadership teacher, and Best Buddies co-sponsor.

Best Buddies is a nonprofit organization that promotes friendships and fosters meaningful connections for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The OPRF chapter sponsors events throughout the year to promote friendship and inclusion.

The inclusion basketball game is “by far the best in-school event we do, and I’m prepared to argue with anyone who disagrees,” Singletary wrote in an email.

As one of the event’s planners and hosts, he gets a “bird’s eye view” of all the event has to offer. “I see and hear nothing but amazing responses,” Singletary said.

The game isn’t all about competition. It’s intended to allow students to support one another and create an environment that fosters teamwork and acceptance.

During the assembly, the student section was painted with a sea of yellow. With packed stands and yellow wristbands, shouts of joy filled the air. Looking around the Field House, you could see the stands erupt in pride as players sunk three-pointers.

“The inclusion assembly is an amazing event because we get to bring together the entire school community to a space where we can all support each other,” said Konecki.

Fans shouted encouragement for not only the Huskies but also the Leyden Eagles. After the game, Singletary stood mid-court and shouted, “It’s a great day to be a Huskie,” quoting Head Football Coach John Hoerster.

Singletary worked alongside Special Education Program Chair Fawn Joyce and student Best Buddies leaders including seniors Annie Whitmore, Ellie Killsburg, Anne Lynch, Paul Nelson, Alex Brown and Kevin Chavez.

“Best Buddies is a place of inclusion for everyone, a place where they feel supported,” said junior and Best Buddies member Cameron Dunlop, “Best Buddies impacts so many lives,” Dunlop explained how amazing it feels to be a part of something with such a wide impact.

Inclusion is making sure that everyone has a space to express themselves, and that they are a part of a community. “Inclusion is more than just giving people a seat at the table; inclusion is also giving them a voice and spotlight at that table as well,” said Singletary.

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