Glen Rock becomes Play Unified school


Rooney was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation on October 19. Superintendent Dr. Paula Valenti, GRHS Principal Mr. John Arlotta and Glen Rock BOE President Rona McNabola presented the award.

by Christina Howie, Copy Editor

Senior Kieran Rooney obtained a $450 Play United Grant award from the Special Olympics of New Jersey.

Everyday, a local, regional or national Special Olympics event is going on somewhere in the world. Glen Rock High School now has the opportunity to participate in such a fulfilling program.

“This distinction creates teams in our high school to compete in Special Olympics events that are comprised of a combination of athletes who have mental disabilities and athletes who do not,” Rooney said.

Rooney became involved with the Special Olympics in the fifth grade. His father encouraged him to join the organization.

“I am glad he encouraged me because it has made such a difference in my life,” he said. “I enjoy interacting with the athletes; it is a really worthwhile experience.”

Throughout the year, Rooney volunteers at different events. He has led his team to fundraise over $2,500 in ninth and tenth grade.

The mission of Play Unified is to create teams where a spectator would not know if an athlete has disabilities or not, thereby seeking to assure that no stigma is attached to people with disabilities.

The Play Unified team at Glen Rock High School consists of Mr. John Arlotta, Mr. William Crispino, Mrs. Ann Comarato and Mrs. Rochelle Forstot.

“This past summer Mr. Arlotta and I met with Susan Colacello, SONJ’s Play Unified representative to work out how to receive a grant to become a certified Play Unified School,” Rooney explained.

The trio brainstormed ideas and Rooney created a committee to help with this part of the process.

“Kieran approached me with his ideas, especially as he needed a sponsor for the grant,” Arlotta said. “Being involved in our Pathways program and hearing about Kieran’s past involvement with the Special Olympics, I was obviously very supportive.”

On Oct. 19, the Glen Rock Board of Education awarded a Certificate of Appreciation to Rooney for his work with Special Olympics Project UNIFY.

“We look forward to our involvement in varying activities, such as bowling and soccer where there are state-wide events held,” Arlotta said.