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Special Olympics events to kick off Monday

COVINGTON -- Special Olympics Week in Newton County begins Monday.

A parade and opening ceremonies will kick off events Monday, followed by track and field events, with closing ceremonies on Friday.

The parade will begin at 10:30 a.m. at Sharp Learning Center on Newton Drive, continue past the Newton County Board of Education and the Newton County Theme School at Ficquett. It then will continue around the Covington Square and back to Sharp.

This year's co-grant marshals of the parade are retiring Newton County School System Superintendent Gary Mathews, along with retiring special education teacher Valeria Maddox, who taught at Ficquett Elementary School and then Flint Hill Elementary School. The honorary grand marshal will be student Jonah Barnett, who this year graduated from Flint Hill Elementary School and now attends Cousins Middle School.

Opening ceremonies will follow the parade, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on the field at Homer Sharp Stadium.

Track and field events are scheduled the next two days. Elementary school athletes will compete from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday on the field at Sharp, and middle and high school students and adults will compete at the same time Wednesday.

More than 400 athletes are expected to participate in this year's events. Additionally, more than 400 volunteers will assist with events, first aid and students; volunteers include Bard employees, school club groups, student athletes and other school staff and community members.

The games are being played in memory of student Andre Troche, a second-grader from South Salem Elementary School who died earlier this month.

Closing ceremonies are scheduled from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Friday at The Church at Covington. It will feature local singer April Allen and a torch run.

Newton County Special Olympics began in 1975. In Newton County, athletes train and compete in sports like basketball, volleyball, tennis, bocce, bowling, roller skating, horseback riding, golf and wheelchair activities throughout the year.