SOMO Is Back!

Stuco hosts SOMO after several year hiatus

The 2022-2023 school year brought back the Special Olympics on Thursday, Feb. 16.

“It was really cool for our students to see that it doesn’t matter if you have a disability, you can still have fun,” Stuco sponsor Brianna Nitz said. 

Special Olympics of Missouri (SOMO) brought together about 163 athletes with more than 180 buddies. In addition to the OHS students who signed up to be buddies, different clubs helped in preparing for the event. 

“We had Leadership,” Nitz said. “We had the Fishing Club, Cheer, STUCO and FCCLA [help out].” 

Stuco co-sponsor Isaac Freitag and Nitz organized this event with Special School District employee Kerrie Townsend and STUCO for the first time in a few years. This yearly event, which has been previously postponed by COVID, was created to mimic the actual Olympics and brought together special education students from all over the district from elementary, middle and high school. 

“We started with an opening ceremony, just like the real Olympics…” Nitz said. “They sang the national anthem, a nice little kick off to the day, and then players were dismissed.”

From there, different activities were available for the athletes and their buddies to participate. 

“They either went to their basketball games,” Nitz said, “or we had a Victory Village.”
The variety of sports and games was tons of fun for the athletes, but it provided an exciting day for the volunteers as well. 

“It was a lot of fun,” Sienna McGilvery (12) said. “It was a really cool experience, especially to see how many people there were and how excited all of the kids were.”

Another participant at SOMO had a similar experience.

“I enjoyed connecting with the kids and spending time with them,” Taylor Kohring (12) said, “and getting to see them succeed.”

For anyone considering volunteering next school year, there is plenty of advice to be spread around.

“Have a lot of energy…” Kohring said, “but also have a good time.”

Many of the students who participated can agree the day took a lot of energy, but it was all for a good cause.

“It is challenging…It’s a really long day,” McGilvery said, “…but it’s well worth it because of the community building, along with the relationships you can make with the kids.”

The long day exposed many students to a new community and a peek into the lives of peers.

“I had a student tell me just now that it was so cool to see students that were different from them and have different levels of ability as them out doing the same things that they do,” Nitz said, “and enjoying the team sports and having fun.”