Sports Science Magnet Partners with FALS Program

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Sports Science Magnet Partners with FALS Program

FALS student Dijon Smith and his SSA buddy participating in the SSA Awesome Activity Day

FALS student Dijon Smith and his SSA buddy participating in the SSA Awesome Activity Day

FALS student Dijon Smith and his SSA buddy participating in the SSA Awesome Activity Day

FALS student Dijon Smith and his SSA buddy participating in the SSA Awesome Activity Day

Taylor Brown, Senior

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A Kenwood magnet program aimed at launching students into sports science careers includes a unique partnership with the school’s program for students with special needs.

The Sports Science Academy (SSA) focuses on fields such as becoming a personal trainer, sports coach, or sports or physical therapist, among others. SSSA gets students ready for the real world and college with their variety of classes throughout the student’s four years.

Students, under the leadership of teachers Predrag Durkovic, Thomas Hanlin and Candi Votta, participate in thought-provoking class discussions, hold and participate in a variety of field trips, complete service projects to get a head start on service-learning hours and hear from important guest speakers to help influence their awareness of opportunity available in the sports science field.

In addition, SSA students buddy up with a student in the Functional Academic Learning Support (FALS) program each year for the whole school year. The SSA buddy helps the FALS student navigate physical activities and classwork.

“We plan lessons and sports units for them to build physical stamina. It’s a great experience because we develop a special bond with them because we really get to know them,” said senior SSA student Sam Wilson. Sam’s FALS buddy enjoys his time with her just as much. “I appreciate all the help Sam Wilson has given me this year as my SSA buddy,” said FALS student Daniel Faison.

Students in both programs really enjoy their planned units around sport  like soccer, hockey, and basketball. “I really look forward to it once a month,” said FALS student Nick Furbee.

One of the biggest annual events of the Sports Science Academy is the spring event called “FALS Play Day.” The FALS Play Day is a day dedicated towards kids with special needs from Kenwood and other schools in the county.

Schools such as Chesapeake, Dundalk, Kenwood and others in the area meet in Kenwood’s gym and SSA students host a play day for all the kids. SSA organizes the event and runs it as team and station leaders, at times engaging in the activities with the FALS students.  Working with and helping kids with physical challenges is a great hands-on experience for the SSA students.

SSA provides snacks, drinks, and host a dance off in between the different stations, and the kids love it. “The dancing was my favorite part,” said FALS student Malik Burnett. This day brings nothing but joy to the FALS Kids and their SSA buddies.

SSA students also participate in an annual trip to Oregon Ridge to the VSAF, a county wide play date for students from pre-K to 12 with special needs. SSA students have been attending the festival to assist with various activities for many years and “every year our students have a positive and humble experience,” said SSA advisor Durkovic.

Staff and faculty involved in the Sports Science Academy and who teach the classes are supportive and influence students positively throughout their high school career in an effort to prepare them for the next big chapter of their life. “The SSA Program introduced me to the medical field and gave me inspiration for what I want to do in the sports field,” said senior Katelyn Taylor.