Billings High School Implements Unified PE Class

Stronger Together. That’s the ideas behind a Billings West High School Unified Physical Education (PE) Class. 

Unified Physical Education (PE) is a unique opportunity for students of varying ability levels and backgrounds to come together on equal terms through ongoing fitness, sports, leadership and wellness activities. 

Billings West High School implemented Unified PE for the 2022-23 academic year that focuses on the physical, intellectual, and social growth of all participants.

Samantha Drange, special education specialist with Billings public schools and the local program coordinator for Special Olympics Montana at Billings West, says one of the goals for West High is to make it an inclusive school.

“Unified PE was a way to bring inclusion to the surface. We implemented this class because in Unified PE, individualism and inclusion naturally coexist. The environment is rich in encouragement, trust, and lasting friendships.”

The idea of Unified PE is a class that consists of 50% students who have intellectual disabilities and 50% without. Freshmen through seniors can participate but the unified partners are generally sophomores, juniors, or seniors. The Billings West class has 40 students.

The Unified PE class offers a wide range of activities and topics according to Drange.

“On Wednesdays, we focus on fostering friendships through activities like team building and healthy relationships. We also discuss and brainstorm ways to become an inclusive school.  Additional topics will include food and nutrition, wellness, and leadership. During our Fitness days we have done numerous activities such as flag football, basketball, soccer, gym games, walking to the park and every other Friday is Yoga Day!

Kayla, a high school student and unified partner says, “The class makes my day. If I am having a bad day, it changes my mood.  It’s so much fun, not just like a regular gym class. This class has given me a new perspective!”

Drange says one goal for Unified PE is to have cross town competition, “It would provide an opportunity for the student body to come cheer and support our athletes!”

Recently, the high school was approved to have an inclusive club–another important step to a becoming a unified generation.