Annual Wheelchair Basketball Game Brings Inclusiveness

Samantha Ruiz, Reporter

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On Thursday, April 4th, 2019, Griffith High School held their annual wheelchair basketball game in the main gym. In quarter one, the boys’ basketball team, consisting of seniors Joenathan King, Mikey Kantor, Craig Gordon, Josiah Harding, and Anthony Lane, played against Lincolnway Special Recreation Association (LWSRA) and their wheelchair basketball team The Hawks from Chicago, Illinois. In quarter two, the girls’ basketball team was up, consisting of freshman Jacey Nelson, sophomore Ariel Esquivel, freshman Marisa Esquivel, sophomore Jordan Hillman, and freshman Cierra Pipkins. The boys’ team gave the home team a score of four against the visiting team’s sixteen.

At halftime, the scores got flipped so that the home team could possibly make a winning comeback. The original score of 4-16 was now 16-4. During the third quarter the teachers played. The teachers on the court included business teacher Nicholas Zivanovic, science teacher Emma Farkas, algebra teacher Tim McCoy, Spanish teacher Castulo Perez, and middle school history teacher Merv Barenie.

“To plan the wheelchair basketball game, we had multiple meetings. One meeting was just discussing what we were going to do, another was finalizing everything. We all had separate jobs in between each meeting.” algebra teacher Dayna Justice said. Justice worked with the entire special education department including Jeanine Gonzalez, Melissa Diekelmann, Laura Johnson, Barbara Luevano, Amanda Madison, and Julie Denormandie to put this event together. Justice’s job was to help make sure everything ran smoothly. The wheelchair basketball game has been going on for 12 years now.

Special education teacher, Melissa Diekelmann, and her students put together a performance to the song “We All Bleed The Same” by Mandisa. The students were taught how to use sign language to communicate the lyrics. During the song, everyone in the bleachers stood up and started clapping in support of the kids. Diekelmann first heard the song on the radio and thought it would be fun to teach the kids to sign the words. “We first did this song in our Christmas concert,” Diekelmann said. “I thought it had a good message for people to hear, especially now. It fits with the fact that it is a wheelchair basketball game, and it helped bring light to disabilities.” The message to take away from the song is that even if people’s outside appearance may be a bit different,it doesn’t mean their spirit is different.