UMHS Honorary Football Captain Shines

UMHS Honorary Football Captain Shines

00:00 AM - November 30, 2018

Pictured left to right: UMHS Students Chey Walker, Collin Jones, Csilla Pesko, and Clayton Byer

Pictured left to right: UMHS Students Chey Walker, Collin Jones, Csilla Pesko, and Clayton Byer

The Union Mine High School stadium roared with applause as Csilla Pesko took to the field during a Diamondback’s home football game this fall. The team proudly made their fellow student with special needs the Honorary Football Captain for the evening and filled her heart with pure joy. She remained a beaming focal point during the game, and the cheerleaders surprised Csilla when they included her during cheers to inspire the crowd. UMHS Varsity football coach, Chic Bist (Coach), spearheaded the Honorary Football Captain program that fosters the inclusion of all UMHS students. “It’s important for our students, educators, and the public to understand that including all students is the right thing to do,” Coach expressed. “It strengthens social skills for everyone involved, and I am proud of our students who lead by example.”

Pictured left to right: UMHS Students Chey Walker, Collin Jones, Csilla Pesko, and Clayton Byer

Pictured left to right: UMHS Students Chey Walker, Collin Jones, Csilla Pesko, and Clayton Byer

Shelly Abel-Smith, El Dorado County Office of Education (EDCOE) Special Education Teacher, partnered with Coach and explained, “In 2017, he approached me about starting an Honorary Football Captain program at UMHS. I strive for inclusion for my students as much as possible, and this was a great opportunity that extended beyond the normal school day. As a teacher, I want to see more of this kind of inclusion, and I’m so proud of the accepting culture that has developed at UMHS. As a mom, I’m so happy to see the joy and love that this program brings to both the general education and special education kids and their families.”

During the first week of school, football players visited Abel-Smith’s classroom and met her students. In record time, the entire team regularly ate lunch with the class, and impactful relationships were formed. School-wide rallies introduced the Honorary Team Captains, and they led parades through campus on game days. At game time, they entered the stadium with their teams, participated in the coin toss, and met the referees and captains from the opposing team. Seth Pearce is a Junior and facilitates physical education activities for the class, “I have learned a lot from this program, and if anything, I feel extremely grateful for what I have. We are able to go play football, and not everyone is that fortunate. It’s important to remember.”

“Throughout the past football season and the current season, the players have shown leadership, compassion, and kindness, all fostered by Coach Bist encouraging them to be role models for the entire school. Ten of my students have been captains at the home games, and the pleasure it brings to families is immeasurable. When their names are announced at the games and the crowd roars, it is a testament to how many students on campus have been moved by the program,” Shelley expressed.

Pictured: UMHS Student Csilla Pesko & Shelley Abel-Smith (teacher)

Pictured: UMHS Student Csilla Pesko & Shelley Abel-Smith (teacher)

County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Ed Manansala, champions inclusive practices. “Coach Bist and his athletes are demonstrating that when given the opportunity to expand their team to include their fellow students, it is a triumph for the entire student body. Congratulations to Csilla and all of the Honorary Captains!”

EDCOE works in partnership with districts and families to provide special education services to students with moderate to severe disabilities at their school sites. Amy Andersen, EDCOE Special Services Executive Director, explained, “Inclusion isn’t simply about students with disabilities, exposure to new opportunities, or promoting equal opportunities. These are all great things and very important, but inclusion is so much more. It is about all students having a sense of belonging to our diverse community and ensuring all students, regardless of abilities, feel a connection to our community. We then embrace the uniqueness in each other, living with a sense of shared responsibility for all students in our community. The students and staff at UMHS have woven inclusion into the very fabric of the school culture creating an inclusive environment where all students are connected and benefit not just academically but globally.”

While reflecting on this incredible culture, UMHS Principal Paul Neville expressed, “Union Mine High School strives to provide an athletic program that is an enduring source of pride for our school and community, which develops and instills the qualities of sportsmanship, humility, respect, commitment, and teamwork. While competing at the highest level is a priority for our athletic department, learning valuable life lessons through participation in sports is the ultimate goal. Coach Bist and the UMHS football program have taken that message a step further. Through football, Coach Bist continues to teach our students the value of servant leadership and unity. He stresses to our athletes the importance of finding strength in commonalities and appreciating each individual’s gifts. Ultimately, by honoring others’ journeys and obstacles, we can create a more united school community.”

“Chic Bist is all about student success at every level and his efforts to support students and build a strong school culture personify what Union Mine is trying to accomplish in the hearts and minds of their athletes and entire student body,” expressed Dr. Ron Carruth, El Dorado Union High School District Superintendent, “There’s a special feeling on the Union Mine campus, and it is due in part to creating opportunities for respecting everyone. Special people like Chic make a real difference.”

For more information about UMHS, visit umhs.eduhsd.k12.ca.us

For more information about EDCOE programs, visit edcoe.org

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