By Elizabeth F. McNamara

The first weekend in June is always the Rhode Island Special Olympics Summer Games down at URI. In East Greenwich, the Thursday before the Summer Games has become pep rally day at Hanaford Elementary School. That’s when members of the Special Olympics North Kingstown (SONK) team are invited for a noisy, enthusiastic and all together fun send off to the games at URI.

The pep rally was the brain child many years ago of Meghan Giannelli, when her children were students at Meadowbrook Farms Elementary. She got the whole school to participate, cheering as each athlete was introduced. Inviting the SONK team to participate was a natural – SONK’s head coach is Lisa McKay, the adaptive phys ed teacher for East Greenwich public schools. Many EG students belong to SONK (including my son, James).

The pep rally moved to Hanaford when Giannelli’s children did. Her daughter, Emma, is a freshman at the high school now and her son is at Cole. For now, anyway, the pep rally remains at Hanaford.

Athlete Dom with Mr. Bob, who walked Dom into the pep rally.

Hanaford students with posters they made.

Go Domenic! Go Kyle!

 

As the Hanaford students filed back to class Thursday, athletes stood in a line giving – and getting – high fives.