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Swope students' bond creates a special moment on the track
The first to congratulate him and slap five was Drew, and the other runners followed suit with smiles and back pats all around.
"Jack hadn't grown up with Drew and hadn't been friends with him before," said Diana Rovetti, Jack's mom. "But at that first track meet, Jack was standing in a group of kids waiting for his race and didn't really know where to go. This kid (Drew), on Reebok Ortholite Running Shoes
It was an idea he shared with his mother, Julie, a teacher at Caughlin Ranch Elementary.
"The culture at that school is just really, really cool," she said. "This is Jack's second year there. He is in all regular classes, has a special ed teacher there in math and English and he's just been doing great."
Diana Rovetti credits part Saucony Progrid Kinvara
Jack comes from an athletic family his older sisters, Stephanie and Morgan, played sports at Brigham Young University and he competes in swimming and has a green belt in martial arts. Plus, he's a mean Xbox 360 player.
Rovetti, an eighth grader with Down syndrome at Swope Middle School in southwest Reno, lined up with four runners to his left and his teammate Drew Rippingham to his right. The heat featured runners from Clayton, Billinghurst and Swope.
that day, said, 'Come race with me.' At every single meet after that, he ran next to Jack in the heats. He's a really good athlete. He could have been winning these races, but he ran beside Jack and encouraged him. He did this on his own."
Yes, the other runners intentionally held back so Jack could win. The fix was in. That is not the takeaway.
He, too, is a competitor.
"It was very touching," said Jim Rippingham, a Huffaker Elementary School teacher and Drew's father, who watched the race unfold. "There were a lot of tears, to tell you the truth, once people in the stands kind of figured out what was happening."
of that relationship to the atmosphere at Swope fostered by principal George Brown and assistant principal Amy Callahan.
"Jack is a hard worker, a good helper and has a tremendously kind heart. During his time at Swope, Jack has earned self manager status (which is a type of honors pass), participated in track and wrestling and has gained confidence. He is dearly loved by his classmates and his teachers."
This moment came about because some 14 year old boys that general class of knucklehead known more for stinky shoes and video game addictions did something nice for a fellow student without expecting a thing in return.
In other words, he's got a competitive fire burning inside.
approached the other boys who would be running in the race and pitched his idea."I think he was really proud to see the smile on Jack's face, because that's what it was for," Julie Rippingham said. "Everybody should experience winning."
The school emphasizes and rewards positive behavior TRACE qualities in education parlance, with TRACE standing for tolerance, respect, active learning, character and empathy.
Both boys will be freshmen at Reno High School next year. It's likely their days of running track together will be over.
Callahan said both Drew and Jack are examples of that.
When the gun went off to start the race, Jack, a head shorter than most of the other runners, churned into the lead. Halfway down the track, he maintained it about a five yard cushion and as he crossed the finish line a few seconds later, he was alone in first place.
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So, before the final track meet of the middle school year, Drew began thinking about getting Jack a win in a race.
"Drew is the epitome of what TRACE stands for at Swope Middle School," she said. "He shows empathy, integrity, respect and Reebok Npc 2 kindness when dealing with others. He is a good student, a gifted athlete and has proven himself time and time again to be a good friend.
Drew is a standout player in the Reno Ballers youth basketball league and all around good athlete.
"He said everyone should experience winning," Julie Rippingham said. "You think about the elation you feel when you win. Drew has always had a big heart. He wanted to do something about it."
You might not find Jack Rovetti's win in a heat of the 100 meter dash at the final middle school track meet of the season in any record books. But for the runners in the race and the people in the stands at McQueen High School that sunny day in May, it will be a lasting memory one made of friendship and sportsmanship and selflessness and smiles and tears.
Winning isn't everything, but it sure does feel good.
The ringleader was Drew, who early in the track season formed a bond with Jack, running every heat with him and encouraging him along the way.
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