To be celebrated: Zumbro Education District holds Activity Day for special education students

Published 5:12 pm Friday, May 10, 2024

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HAYFIELD — Hayfield elementary student David Jorgenson couldn’t hide the smile on his face when he finished his race.

With joy in his eyes, he simply looked up at Hayfield special education coordinator Samantha Thurman and said “this was my first medal ever!”

Jorgenson and many other students wore their medals proudly on a day of smiles and support in Hayfield as the Zumbro Education District held its Activity Day for special education and at-risk students in grades K-6 at the Hayfield track Friday morning.

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“The big thing is just to give these kids an opportunity to be in front of their peers and be celebrated,” Thurman said. “It’s a very cool experience for them to be able to compete.”

The students competed with and in front of their peers as Hayfield elementary students looked on from the stands to cheer on the competitors. After the races, the students were able to go from station to station and compete in various activities like the ever popular bounce house, a parachute game and throwing challenges.

Stacy Magnus, special education coordinator for Blooming Prairie schools, said the Activity Day is one of the highlights of the year for students and staff alike.

“This is a very special day for kids with special needs. They get the opportunities to compete with peers who are having some of the same needs and challenges that they have and they get to be cheered on. It’s a wonderful day and our staff, students and administration look forward to it every year,” Magnus said. “Any time you can blend movement and learning, research shows that it enhances learning. It’s a chance for them to learn and they can also learn that they may or may not win that race and that’s OK, because sportsmanship is important. Everyone is excited for everyone here and we always have a lot of tired voices after this.”

ZED executive director Patrick Gordon has been in his position for seven years now and he said the Activity Day goes back 33 years. The event takes a year to plan and beyond competition, it allows students to socialize with those from other districts.

“The kids all circle this day on their calendar in the fall and it’s a big deal,” Gordon said. “It’s like a track and field day where they can’t participate in their home district. It’s really sensory friendly and they have people cheering for them.”

Gordon said that Hayfield served as an excellent host site as students and staff both contributed to make the day a memorable one for all involved.

“They put everything into it. We had Hayfield seniors here, student council members, the band, and school board members,” he said. “It’s a real special event that takes a long time to plan. It’s amazing to see the collaboration between all six of the member districts.”

Besides BP and Hayfield, ZED serves Triton, Stewartville, Kasson-Mantorville and Byron.