Sea Kings, Panthers Unite With Track Meet

by Nina Li Kings, Panthers Unite With Track Meet
• Palos Verdes and Peninsula high school students unite for the United Track and Field meet.
At a time when society is becoming more inclusive, Peninsula High School is reflecting that sentiment with its first Unified Track Meet.

Students from Palos Verdes and Peninsula high school’s Skills for Independence Class participated in a track meet put on by many leadership students and teachers, including Peer Leaders Uniting Students (PLUS) teacher Patrick Daley.
Daley, along with other students and Peninsula’s Skills for Independence teacher Betsy Fujinaga, attended united track meet at North Torrance High School, which sparked the idea of having Peninsula host one as well.
Once Principal Brent Kuykendall approved the idea, Daley and his team began to hold meetings, send emails and text messages to various departments on campus.
“I contacted Fred Steiner to get the band involved, Dan Doctor to get the choir to sing the anthem, local firefighters to come and show their support, and district and school board members,” Daley said.
“I wanted this event to bring the community together and exemplify what an exceptional place we live in. So much behind the scenes work went into this and it was all worth it seeing what joy it brought to our athletes, Daley said.
Daley hopes that the event will be held annually, and based on the result of the day, many students agree.
“I think the event thrones put really well,” said Paula Ejarque. “The crowd was big and loud, which was awesome for the athletes. Everyone seemed so happy and excited to be there.”
The event lasted about two hours, with students participating in track events, such as the 50 meter, 100 meter and relay. Every student from the Skills for Independence classes was paired with either a leadership student, a track and field member or just someone who volunteered to help.
“My favorite part was to run and get to interact with everyone,” said Ejarque. “It was so much fun, and it brought me so much joy to be part of such an awesome event.”
Like Ejarque, many of the students who volunteered to be a buddy with a runner were appreciative of the opportunity to participate in the event.
“My favorite part was seeing and feeling the enthusiasm given off by everyone present,” Lexi Harris said. “You could not not feel happy and energetic. I loved the t-shirts and capes many athletes wore.”
The overall atmosphere throughout the entire meet was one of community and pride for the students’ fellow peers.
“I thought the event turned out perfectly,” Harris said. “With the firemen handing out medals, and the bleachers full of students, it was a really fun and memorable day for everyone involved.”
The day was one to show that Peninsula accepts all students and makes sure that everyone is included. There is no room for isolation on Peninsula’s campus, especially when there are so many students who have great ideas and compassionate hearts.
“It was day of inclusion, where everyone came together to celebrate our similarities and our differences,” Daley said. “All those who participated were one team. All the athletes were able to experience a full American high school experience.”
The event will hopefully live on as a tradition on Peninsula’s campus and, possibly, spread to campuses across the South Bay as a day to celebrate every individual. It is a very memorable event and allows students’ hearts to grow a little bit bigger.
“Seeing the smiles on our athletes faces and the good sportsmanship being practiced from everyone involved was my favorite part,” Daley said. “At one point I was actually able to soak it in and look around. What I saw gave me chills. Principals, district employees, school faculty and staff, students, athletes, media, family, friends—we were all one for those two hours.”

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