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  • Megann Horstead

Homer Jr. High staff prepare for Polar Plunge


Eighteen Homer Junior High School staff members will look to brave the icy waters in Leisure Lake at Joliet’s Leisure Lake Resort for Special Olympics.

Dubbed as The Homer Subzero Heroes, the team is set to take a dip to support the cause March 11.

Brittany Konsoer, a resource teacher and team lead, said she is thankful the group is coming together to support Special Olympics Illinois.

“It was just kind of on a whim one Monday morning; I was trying to recruit,” she said. “I had quite a few who were interested. We looked around [for Polar Plunges], [and] the closest one was in Joliet. [I] kind of sent out a link. It’s just the Junior High.”

The group is comprised of a number of teachers and support staff members, including Brittany Konsoer, Shannon Gentile, Allison Connolly, Janina Giantomasso, Alexis Hirsch, Nichole Boyce, Tiffani Stark, Erin Sagon, Diane Blaskey, Kendra Michalik, Maxine Pavlovich, Caroline Risum, Kelly Kardas, Stephanie Moore, Mary Kay Olendorf, Amy Marzano, Sam Hoinacki and Marisa Lopez.

Additionally, the group is to be joined by a Homer Junior High School parent and friend of a staff member to account for a total team count of 20.

There are a number of benefits to supporting recreational opportunities for students with special needs, one being that it gives each athlete a chance to get involved.

Hirsch, a resource teacher, said these experiences are crucial for personal development.

“They’re growing physically and socially,” she said. “You can see them taking risks, they’re doing their best and [people] get to see them shine.”

Connolly, an eighth-grade language arts teacher, said it is clear that supporting the cause brings great meaning to the team.

“It’s a personal cause,” she said. “In some way, shape or form, we all work with students with special needs.”

Konsoer, noting that Homer Jr. High teachers and staff are working to lead by example when it comes to their students, said they believe it is crucial to show support and bring awareness to differences.

Sagon, an eighth-grade language arts teacher, shared that sentiment.

“We’re also setting an example for all our students to get involved in the community,” she said. “Involvement in the community is important.”

March 11 will also serve as a day of firsts for one faculty member. That would be Blaskey, a seventh-grade math teacher at the school.

“This is my first time doing the plunge,” she said. “I’m excited, and I’ve heard great things about it. I’m excited to participate with my colleagues.”

Like the rest of the group, Blaskey is at work in the weeks leading up to the Polar Plunge trying to raise money to support Special Olympics.

Konsoer said the team is hopeful their efforts will not be for naught.

“Our goal was $5,000,” she said. “Right now, we’re at $4,400.65. We’re excited to do something for Special Olympics [Illinois]. We’re excited to do it together. We don’t necessarily work together everyday; we’re all coming together.”

The Homer Subzero Heroes are accepting donations. Those interested in supporting their Polar Plunge can visit http://soill.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.team&teamID=7945

#HomerGlen #specialeducation #education

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