Uniting Sterling Special Abilities Students for Adaptive Field Day

For the first time since the 2018-2019 school year, the schools in the Potomac Falls, Dominion, and Parkview cluster came together to participate in Adaptive PE field day on May 12.


Students were offered a variety of activities, such as JustDance, scooters, ping pong, badminton, cups, balloons, and hockey. (Caelan Jones)

Starting in 2009, Loudoun County Public Schools have hosted an Adaptive PE field day, where students with special abilities come together and engage in activities tailored to their specific skill level. This year’s event took place at Dominion high school, in the school’s main and auxiliary gym, along with the wrestling room. 

Adaptive PE field day unites high school students (peer mentors) and students with special abilities, for an event filled morning and afternoon. “One thing that’s really cool about having the peer coaches there, you know, typically developing students helping with the adaptive PE students, as I think for a lot of these students, it helps them to step out of their comfort zone,” said Faye Weaver, current Adaptive PE teacher in the Potomac Falls cluster. 

This year’s Adaptive PE field day, for the Sterling-area, was held in Dominions auxiliary and main gym, along with the wrestling room. Dominion’s Adaptive PE field day combined students with special abilities from high schools including Potomac Falls, Parkview, and Dominion and the elementary and middle schools that feed into it with peer mentors from Dominion. “I love meeting the kids and I love playing with the kids and seeing them happy, that just makes me so happy,” said Ashley Shortnacy, Dominion student and peer mentor.

The original field day was held at Broad Run High School and started by former Broad Run teacher, John Costello. At the field day, there was a speaker named Amy Stone, who was a mentee and former student of Coach Costello’s.  “Coach Costello was a mentor to me. [He had] always loved to encourage people [and for them] to think about what they’re grateful for. He had a very encouraging personality. People always knew they could come up to him and that was a very special thing,” said Stone. Coach Costello founded and organized the field day, up until his unexpected passing in December of 2022. “There’s talk about how we’re going to name Adaptive Field Day next year in honor of him,” said Jarrett Sites, Adaptive PE teacher at Dominion. 

Since its creation in 2009, the field day has happened every year since then, only stopping during the 2018-2019 and the 2019-2020 school year, partially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  “It is one of the most anticipated days of the year for the students. They look forward to it all year, and they’re just so excited. The biggest thing is the looks on their faces. You can just tell they’re just so thrilled,” said Weaver. 

Students from Dominion participated in the event as peer mentors, one in particular, Jakob Jude Salgado came away with “[When interacting with someone with special needs], you have to be mindful of that person, and be patient with that person and keep in mind what they are going to be going through too”.