Franklin County’s special education students channeled their inner stardom Wednesday at Franklin County High School’s third annual All-Star Day.
High school athletes and coaches partnered with school administration and county teachers to treat the all-stars to a morning of sports, fun and free play.
“Every sport is involved,” said organizer Bradley Lang, who is the varsity soccer coach at FCHS. “Even swimmers and wrestlers helped with stations.”
More than 100 special education students from the county’s elementary and secondary schools convened on the Samuel M. Hawkins-Central Gymnasium and C.I. (Cy) Dillon Stadium-Fred M. Brown Memorial Field to learn from high school athletes about the sports they love.
“I’ve had the privilege to participate in All-Star Day for the last three years,” varsity cheerleader Vandalina Holcomb said. “I love to see everyone’s smiling faces and to see all the fun and excitement that we have here each year.”
Each athletic team set up stations, and students spent the morning rotating between the stations, learning new skills and making new friends.
“All-Star Day means so much to me because every day I step on campus, I’m blessed with the opportunity to work with so many all-stars,” teacher and coach Jamie Wright said.
“It’s an opportunity for our students to realize their abilities in so many different sports, and an opportunity for our students to give back to our community and give them an opportunity to reach out to our kids and show them all how much of an all-star and a champion they are every day.”
All-Star Day began as an idea stemmed from a community service project four years ago.
Part of the requirement of the high school’s soccer program is to complete a community service project, so Lang invited his soccer team to conduct a soccer clinic with special education students at Rocky Mount Elementary School.
“I didn’t realize how great these guys would be with those kids,” Lang said. “I started thinking about it, and I thought, ‘I could replicate this on a bigger scale. Why not use every sports team we have at the high school? Why not use every athlete?’ ”
The following year, Lang, with the help of school administration and staff, athletes and students, organized the first All-Star Day.
“The first year we did it, I had a parent come up to me two weeks after and ask what went on at the high school that day,” Lang said. “She said her daughter had not stopped talking about it since. And her daughter was not one of the all-stars. She was one of the student athletes. I really knew then that we had something good going.”
Lang said he is pleased with the impact All-Star Day has on all students who participate.
“Not only is it great for our all-stars that get to come participate, but what a great lesson it teaches our high school athletes — to have compassion, kindness and empathy and to be a kid for a day,” he said. “High schoolers are still just kids, too. I wanted these athletes to have a life lesson as well.”
All-Star Day was sponsored this year by Full Armor Custom Apparel, McDonald’s and Parker Design Group. Each all-star was presented a medal at the end of the event.“A lot of things come together to make this day possible,” Lang said. “We couldn’t have done it without the help of our sponsors, coaches, athletes and our school administration. We come to work every day and we love our jobs. But, All-Star Day is our favorite day of the year.”