Story and photos by Jeff Keeling
Who doesn’t love bowling? Certainly no one inside Holiday Lanes Friday morning, as Special Olympic athletes from high schools in four area counties gathered to enjoy fellowship and competition with teachers, coaches, family members and friends.
The scene at one of the far lanes was boisterous and joyful as half a dozen David Crockett High School students strode to the end of the lane in turn. Some had a little help, some took matters into their own hands, but all seemed to revel in the buzz of activity and noise.
“It’s a big day,” special education teacher Amanda Vance said as students and a number of their peer partners – non special needs students who volunteer in the classroom and develop helpful friendships with their fellow students – exchanged high fives after nearly every roll. “They enjoy coming and competing and having fun.”
Isaiah Mccauley, one of Vance’s freshmen, was clearly in his element, putting some serious body english on each of his attempts.
“He loves bowling,” said his mother, Katrina Mccauley. In fact, she said, a special needs bowling league would be right up her son’s alley. He plays softball in the spring and summer, but would benefit from more extracurricular sports activities.
Mccauley said she’s been pleased with her son’s adjustment to high school after a very positive experience at Jonesborough Middle School with a great teacher, Erin Redden. “I was nervous about him going to his first year of high school, but he’s transitioned beautifully,” Mccauley said. “They all love him so much.”
Part of that love comes from the peer tutors, students like Haley Rhodes, a Crockett senior who will head off to the University of Tennessee to study engineering next year. She’s been a friend to Jordan St. John since she met him through his father, math teacher Bob St. John.
“I’ve really enjoyed becoming friends with Jordan,” Rhodes said. “Peer tutoring has taught me a lot.”