The third annual “Bocce Day,” organized by the Massachusetts Association of Student Councils (MASC) and the Special Olympics, was held Nov. 15. The event once again proved to be a success in bringing together student leaders and special education students for a fun-filled and active afternoon.
As one of the newer events established by MASC, Bocce Day is designed to allow students from throughout Massachusetts to meet and compete against each other in a few fun and simple rounds of bocce. The game is like a combination of bowling and curling; players roll handheld balls down a dirt or gravel lane and try to get theirs to stop closest to the target, a smaller ball. In the process, you also try to knock opponents’ balls away from the target. High schools put together teams combined of special education and non-special education students.
This year, MASC was able to set up two regional tournaments: one held the 15th at Whitman-Hanson Regional High School and another to take place at Grafton High School on November 22. Hanover High sent two teams to Whitman-Hanson, where they spent the day dancing, meeting new friends, and playing some bocce. The first team, Hanover Pride #1, included Eric Iverson, Macy Hohenlightner, Callie Hoadley, Lauren Bilton and Emily Teidke. Hanover Pride #2 was led to victory by Jack Skordinski, Andrea Bilton, Emma Devine, Chrissy Greco and Emma Hardy. Both teams had an amazing time, and despite showing up to the event without much previous knowledge of bocce, were able to beat numerous other schools as the tournament went on.
Team member Emma Devine said it best when discussing her Bocce Day experience; “I loved how such a simple game could bring so many people together to support this awesome cause. Watching the kids’ faces light up and hearing the gratitude from the parents was immensely fulfilling”.
The event began with an opening ceremony, during which each school’s teams were announced and positive energy was spread through welcoming speeches and group energizers. During one of the most memorable moments of the day, a Special Olympic athlete carried the “torch,” a glowing flame crafted out of red and orange construction paper, down the stairs of the auditorium. This touch truly gave the event a genuine Olympian feel, and got the teams ready for the upcoming rounds of bocce.
Throughout the tournament, students cheered on their teammates from the bleachers, holding glittering signs and chanting the names of their classmates. As the teams played, a DJ shuffled through a variety of songs to get everybody pumped up, ranging from Frozen sing-a-longs to the latest pop hits. People danced and sang during the entire day, and nearly everybody was sporting a huge smile by the end of the event. It was overall a very fun and energetic environment, and by the time the last round of bocce was called to an end, nobody wanted the good times to stop.
Bocce Day finally concluded with a warm closing ceremony, during which each team was called up to receive medals. Photos were snapped, hugs were given, and finally the event was called to an official close. Bocce Day truly was a success for all involved, and left a greatly positive impact on anyone who participated. The Special Olympics athletes and their families could not have expressed more gratitude for those who took part, and judging by the endless smiles and laughter spread throughout the afternoon, the day proved to be an amazing and uplifting experience for all– even those who had no idea how to even play bocce in the first place!