ESPN Presents Unified Champion Banner


Molly Shannon

Senior Conner Groves holds the National Unified Champion School banner in front of the crowd. ESPN and Special Olympics presented this banner during the assembly. Groves said, "It was very cool seeing the kids in the club so excited and for the whole day to just be about them.

Morgan Harbolt, Executive Editor

The Unified Generation makes impact.

ESPN and Special Olympics chose Bullitt East as a top five unified school in the nation.

Wednesday, Oct. 30, East was awarded with being the top unified school in the nation. The Project Unify Club played in a basketball game during the assembly where ESPN presented the unified banner. This unified generation made history at East.

It all started with 34 schools from across the nation who were selected for the ESPN Honor Roll for 2019. But only five of those schools would be selected for a special banner presentation, East being one of them.

To be a top five unified school, there are 10 national standards of inclusion that must be met. Project Unify Club teacher, Mrs. Darnell, started this club and the road to being a top unified school in 2016. Darnell said, “It was a great honor for everyone to to recognize us as a club and to know that Bullitt East is such a unified place. I was just very extremely happy.”

The school day was moved around so that there was enough time for the ESPN banner to be presented and the Project Unify Club students to play a basketball game against Fern Creek Highschool’s special needs program.

But before any of this happened, the Project Unify Club arrived at school at 5 a.m. when WLKY and WHAS came to school to film their segments about the special day. That morning, the WLKY team filmed live segments of the club being excited for the day and what was to come. They also, along with WHAS filmed segments that were shown in the afternoon. WLKY morning broadcaster Alex Durham said, “I think that Bullitt East is really inspiring. I think this program is something that I’ve never really seen before, being from a small town in Arkansas. I really feel like not only is the program inspiring, but the kids who are involved on both sides, it’s just really inspiring seeing everybody work together for a common goal.”

Later in the day, when the assembly started, other local news stations, ESPN and the Special Olympics team arrived. The assembly started off with the Project Unify Club running out into the gym. Sophomore Emma Egan was introduced to give a small speech about what today is all about and to introduce ESPN radio broadcaster and former NFL player, Mike Golic Jr. Gollic opened up the assembly by introducing some important people in the audience. Then Bullitt East Project Unify Club alumni Juel Deeley gave a speech about starting the club in 2016. Next, senior Adam Moore and senior David Boyer were introduced to come give a speech. Moore talked about how him and Boyer met, the special bond they have created over the years and how much Boyer and the Project Unify Club mean to him. Lastly, junior Macy Britt came up and gave the unified pledge for the audience to repeat.

After Britt’s pledge, it was time for the basketball game. The whole school was packed in the bleachers to support the Project Unify Club team. Signs were made and handed out to students that had all of the Project Unify Club players names on them. Golic, Moore and freshman Kevin Boston MCed the game. The Chargers Project Unify Club won the game 20-10. Junior John Hoover is a special needs student in the program. Hoover said, “I like to play ball.”

After the game ended, it was finally time to present the banner. Seniors Conner Groves and Caroline Scott brought out the banner while it was covered with a tablecloth. Then they unveiled the vanner and walked around the whole gym, showing all the students and staff.

After the assembly was over, a press conference was held in the library. The press conference including Golic, Groves, Misty Trent, Special Olympics Trish Mazzoni and Tony Wyllie and Kentucky Lt. Governor Jenean Hampton. Senior Abi Huffman, the Livewire Business Editor, led the conversation and presented questions to the panel. During the press conference Golic said, “I just think the level of dedication that you see, everyone I’ve talked to and that’s the coolest part for me, is not what were doing in front of the microphone but sitting around having these conversations. Having Misty before tell me that I’m not a loud back here because I broke a spoon earlier. It’s the little moments like that, that remind you this is natural for everyone here. High school is a tough place, I like to tell myself I wasn’t in highschool not that long ago, although it is getting further and further every year. Just remembering what it was like for a lot of kids I went to highschool with and seeing the way people here treat each other on just a person to person basis, when no one’s watching. That’s what I think your character is, what you do when no one is watching. This is a high character school.”