The Girard Girls and Boys basketball teams and the Fairhaven Bulldogs basketball team got together last week for a scrimmage game and pasta lunch.
''We've unofficially declared ourselves sister schools,'' said Girard principal, Bill Ryser, ''due to the relationship we fostered through Special Olympics events.''
Girard High School hosts the Special Olympics track meet each May at their facility, Ryser said.
Jasmine Brogden, 11, left, of Fairhaven School, and Kenny Greaver, 16, of Girard High School, enjoy lunch after the Girard Boys and Girls Basketball teams and the Fairhaven Bulldogs played a scrimmage game at the Fairhaven School on Lincoln Way in Niles. Students from both schools played on both teams. This is the second year the schools have gotten together for the friendly game.
About 100 students and 50 Girard High School staff have volunteered for various local Special Olympic events in the past two years, creating an openness with the Girard school community and the Fairhaven school community, Ryser said.
''Our kids are here to teach and coach, but they are the ones learning the lesson in courage,'' Ryser said.
The basketball players from both schools merged into two teams to play the scrimmage game at Fairhaven in what Special Olympic Coordinator Carol Kirsch called a unified format. Cheerleaders from both schools also participated.
''Hopefully this will be an annual event,'' Kirsch said.
The entire Fairhaven student body watched the game while several students from Girard also came just to watch and interact with Fairhaven students.
Following the game, a pasta lunch was held in the school cafeteria donated by Leo's Ristorante of Howland.
''I loved the experience,'' said Breanna Schlatter, 17, of Girard. ''We learn from them and they learn from us. It's a great experience.''
Eleven-year-old Jasmine Brogden from the Fairhaven team agreed with the merging of the two schools.
''I made new friends,'' Jasmine said.