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Butte's East Middle School designated as National Unified Champion School

Posted at 9:56 AM, May 03, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-03 11:56:28-04

BUTTE — East Middle School in Butte has watched it's Unified Sports program grow from a few dozen basketball players to a sizable program with hundreds of athletes and now a track and field team.

That commitment to the program — one which pairs a special education student with a general education student to foster an environment of social inclusion for students with learning disabilities — earned East a major nod from Special Olympics and ESPN.

East was tabbed as a 2023 National Banner Unified Champion School and in February unveiled its banner to commemorate its entry into the program. East was the only school in Montana to earn the honor and just one of 10 schools from the west region to gain the distinction which lasts for four years. East can then reapply for banner status.

The award is a reflection of the school's dedication to making everyone, regardless of differences, feel welcome at East.

"We're all about everybody being on the same team here," said East principal Keith Miller. "Everybody works together, everybody works to make everybody else better."

At East, the hope is that the involvement with athletics through the Unified Sports program will open other extracurricular opportunities for its participants..

In all, 205 schools across the nation were recognized as 2023 National Unified Champion Schools and 806 schools currently hold the distinction.