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'Special Olympics' is the latest national organization to give honors to Southeast's Cleveland High School

DAVID F. ASHTON - Heres CHS Special Education teacher Lurena Weesner, beaming with pride as she shows off Cleveland Highs new national Special Olympics award as a National Unified Champion School. Although the staff at Cleveland High School had been notified of the honor earlier this year, the banner from the national Special Olympics organization which was to signify that the school had been named a "National Unified Champion School" didn't actually arrive until mid-November.

CHS is only the 13th school in Oregon, and the second school in Portland Public School District, ever to be awarded this honor. 

The staffer credited with bringing the honor to Cleveland High -- Special Education teacher Lurena Weesner – was obviously smiling, behind her green-and-yellow face covering, as she showed THE BEE the banner.

Weesner, a Woodstock resident, said that she is also a CHS parent – her daughter, Zoey, will be graduating this spring with the class of 2021. 

"This is my ninth year at CHS as a Special Education teacher; and I'm also the co-activities director (along with the amazing Susie Brighouse), as well as being the freshman class advisor," Weesner told THE BEE.

About the Special Olympics honor, Weesner explained: "The Special Olympics has a division which focuses on 'Unified Activities' – these are activities that promote social inclusion of people with disabilities – not in only sports, but through leadership roles, academic classes, and school awareness and engagement. 

"Being a 'National Unified Champion School' means that, through its inclusion of students with disabilities in all levels – including sports, clubs, leadership, academic classes and assemblies – Cleveland High stands out as a school which values all students," Weesner went on. "We work hard to make sure that no one is excluded from anything they may want to do."

She submitted the school for consideration for the honor, Weesner explained, "because I have found that staff [here] are very caring towards all students, and want them to achieve their goals, whatever they may be; and now, it's amazing to be recognized, at a national level, for our inclusion."

But, Weesner made it clear, other CHS staffers should also be acknowledged – including Speech Pathologist Makenna Miller, and Special Education teacher Elizabeth Dubois. "This was truly a team effort; and also a 'shout out' to Special Events Coordinator Jan Watt, for her unwavering support of all things CHS!

"I want to continue bringing to the forefront just how amazing our student body and staff are; there are some truly terrific things happening at Cleveland High, and I want not only our community, but the entire city, to see them!"

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