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Annual Sporting Event Unites School Community

 Claire Quindry and her mom enjoy a pre-game meal of pizza at Unified Night Lights.

September 21, 2023 - Kirkwood High School was met with loud cheers, friendly smiles, and a lot of pride as over 100 students, families, and staff gathered for the seventh annual Unified Night Lights. The philosophy behind the event is that sports can help provide a path to friendships and understanding.

“It brings together people with and without disabilities to play, dance, and cheer side-by-side,” said Taneal Davis, Kirkwood partner district director. “I would describe it as a football game that places inclusivity and fun at the forefront of its mission.”

The evening kickstarted with a pre-game meal of pizza. Students mingled with family and friends and also met students in different grades. After that, everyone headed to the stadium to watch a unified version of flag football. Students stormed the field, shouted from the sidelines, and played instruments in the pep band. 

“Last year it rained, so I’m glad I was able to play this year,” said Terrell Harrold, seventh grader. “I wanted to participate because I love football and there are so many people who come, including my teachers and grandma.”

Claire Quindry is in eighth grade and the number one thing she loves to do at Unified Lights is dance. Her grandma and grandpa accompanied her at the big event. 

“This event is by far the highlight of my year,” said Davis. “Caring personalities come to the forefront and I love seeing all the smiles and everyone having fun. I invite everyone to come out and see it for themselves. You’ll experience joy and want to come back every year!”

The event was free and open to the public. Along with football players, participants included cheerleaders, dance team members, and musicians.