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Montclair Student Brings Home the Gold from Worldwide Special Olympics

Emily Srebro   
I got this gold medal for my dad,” Emily said afterward. “I was thinking about him when they called out my name.”  
This year’s Montclair High School gymnastics team made a global contribution recently. Emily Srebro, an eleventh-grade Special Education student, was the first Montclair student to ever participate in the worldwide Special Olympics.

This year’s Games were held in Shanghai, China in early October, with Emily competing for Team USA in all four gymnastics events (uneven parallel bars, balance beam, floor exercise and vault). At the end of the competition, she came home with a total of 5 medals: one gold, three silver and one bronze.

“Floor ex is my best event,” she said in an interview following the competition. “That’s what I got the gold in.”

As delighted as everyone else was (her family, teachers and coaches) with the win, Emily alone took her triumph in stride. Way back in mid-October, she told the New Jersey Star-Ledger that she intended to bring home a gold medal to honor her father, whom she lost in 2003. She kept that promise.

  MHS junior Emily Srebro poses with Team USA at the worldwide Special Olympics held in Shanghai.
  “I like to be upside down,” says the gymnast whose mother describes her as “fearless.”
  “I like to be upside down,” says the gymnast whose mother describes her as “fearless.”
  Emily came home with a gold medal in floor exercise, her favorite event. By the end of the Games, she had medaled in all four events, earning three silver and one bronze medal to go with the gold.

“She’s a natural,” Emily’s mother Sarah said of her daughter’s accomplishment. “Even as a toddler, she was always fearless.”

Emily concurred. “I like to be upside down,” she laughed. “And I like to go fast. I really like to go fast.”

Many in the school community and township followed Emily’s progress while overseas and were on hand to congratulate her when she returned home. In her science class, a victory party was held in her honor.

“I know I speak for the entire district when I say, our hats are off to Emily,” Superintendent Alvarez beamed. “She’s a very disciplined and talented young lady who’s worked extremely hard, and she’s made all of us in Montclair extremely proud.”

At his annual State of the Schools address this past month, Dr. Alvarez spoke of Emily’s accomplishments and showed a photograph of her surrounded by Chinese athletes in Shanghai, prompting a cheer from the audience of 160 school and community members.

With her goal of earning a medal (or five) at the Games now met, Emily plans to continue working and competing with the Mounties gymnastics team for the remainder of her time at Montclair High. She will also continue her academics with an eye toward a possible future as a teacher. Already she’s volunteering in kindergarten classrooms, exploring future options which may include college and sports coaching as well.

Emily’s visit to Shanghai was one of a series of events that have taken place this fall throughout the district highlighting global awareness for teachers and students. Beginning with Superintendent Alvarez’s visit to China this summer, the Montclair Public School District has reached an all-time high in its participation in educational opportunities from around the globe. (See “International Exchanges Abound,” this site.)

The district salutes Emily Srebro on her athletic accomplishments at the worldwide Special Olympics.

Article Date: Nov 19, 2007