Unified basketball brings together students in Staunton, Augusta County on Thursday night

Published: Oct. 14, 2022 at 12:11 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - A unified basketball showdown brought together students with special needs from Staunton High School and Wilson Memorial High School on Thursday night.

Mary Thompson, an exceptional learners teacher and unified basketball coach at WMHS, said her team practices twice a week doing drills and scrimmages.

“A lot of our kids don’t always get those opportunities to feel special and to feel involved in their school community,” Thompson said. “Our community in general has come along a lot and helped us this year, and it’s been really great to see that community support, as well as the school support.”

Thompson said when the team first started to practice, some students struggled to shoot a basket, but have come a long way so far. She said WMHS has two more games left of its season.

Before the game, the community and students took a moment of silence for Diego Hernandez, a student that passed away last month after a terminal medical condition. WHSV first met Hernandez a few years ago when his hero John Cena flew to his home to meet him. Thompson said Thursday night’s game is dedicated to Diego.

“It’s a good way for [students] to come together as a team in his honor,” she said.