Special Education teacher Nick Ward is committed to bringing an inclusive spirit to FCHS. He has worked to do this through the Special Olympics program which has proven to be very successful in track and field, basketball, and bowling. This dedication earned Fluvanna County High School recognition as a Unified Champion School. Few schools have earned this award and this banner signifies that FCHS displays a dedication to inclusion.
Ward continues to lead the way in creating an all inclusive and welcoming environment in sports for the students at FCHS with disabilities and/or IEP’s. His long time support of the Special Olympics began while in college and about seven years ago he partnered with Katrina Lee to bring the Special Olympics and concept of “champions together” to FCHS. Champions Together in track and field, for example, is when two students with IEP’s are placed with two members of the track team who do not have IEP’s for a 4×4 relay, thus creating a truly inclusive relay team. “Special Olympics brings the school together,” says Ward.
Although the Special Olympics program at FCHS is self-funded, this endeavor is fully backed by the Fluvanna County School Board, Athletic Director Scott Morris, and local businesses. Riverside Lunch Cafe in Charlottesville, Fluvanna’s Wahoo BBQ, and Danny’s Bar and Grill all donate lunches or dinners for the participants after games and matches.
Last year, with help from the Student Government Association to fundraise for the program, Ward’s students made blankets to sell to the community. Additionally, students participating in Carpentry classes built a storage stand on wheels to help with various projects. “Kids at Fluvanna are awesome and love [the Special Olympics program] and embrace it,” said Ward.
This year, to help fundraise for the Special Olympics in Fluvanna County, some of Ward’s students are participating in the Cool School Penguin Plunge. The pre-Covid plunge was a huge gathering to plunge into the icy water of the Atlantic Ocean in Virginia Beach, Ward says, but this year participants don’t even have to get wet or cold. The entire event is being staged virtually and you can contribute to this cause by donating to Ward’s fundraising page at
https://impact.specialolympicsva.org/fundraiser/3091269 . Each donation earns more penguins that will float in the Lazy River in Virginia Beach on Feb. 5. The penguin to reach the finish first wins a Dunk Tank. Ward said his goal is to raise $500 for Special Olympics.