Kennedy High special education teacher Sal Morabito has been coaching powerlifting to high school students for 21 years, and none have ever been able to bench as much as senior Ronny Luna.
Luna benched 340 pounds on a recent Monday, Morabito said.
“Since his freshman year, when he barely could bench 135 pounds, he has worked out daily during lunch break in the school weight room alongside some of my students with severe disabilities,” the teacher said. “Under the guidance, and encouragement of Ronny, who has been co-teaching with me since his sophomore year, one of our special students won a powerlifting world championship competing against young men without disabilities. That student set also more than 20 new world records in powerlifting.”
Ronny is always friendly with Mortabito’s students while they are training, or when he meets them on campus.
“He is strong yet he stays humble and I am grateful that he is still co-teaching with me my special education students,” Morabito said. “After the conclusion of the school day, Ronny has often helped me move heavy tree stumps in our picnic areas where our students practice their vocational skills.”
But what Mortabito most likes and admires about Ronny is his caring gentleness when training young learners, and “his willingness to do the heavy lifting for us in our gardens,” Morabito said.
“I was quite pleased to witness how easy he benched 340 lbs, but not really surprised because he put such dedication and hard work to his training,” Morabito said. “Next May I will again challenge the whole school in a rack pull competition and Ronnie will probably win with a rack pull of 500 lbs or maybe even a little more. I will be shooting to repeat a 455 lbs. lift like two years ago.”