GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, NL – Students and staff at Sprucewood Academy hosted their own mini Winter Olympics Feb. 21, but with an educational twist.
“We basically wanted to get the kids involved with the Olympics that are happening right now,” physical education teacher Erin Parsons said in the midst of competition that day. “We gave each of the classrooms a country that they researched a little bit and are out representing today.”
Jared Hogg, guidance counselor at Sprucewood Academy, was one of the key planners in making the Sprucewood mini Olympics a success.
“They (the students) researched it,” said Hogg. “A lot of the teams came in with face paint, I guess trying to instill a lot of their countries’ spirit. There were different country chants and a lot of enthusiasm for their country.
“It was a neat way to research countries that you typically wouldn't know a whole lot about. Combined with the love of sport, there was a little bit of a competitive element too, which is a good thing because that gives kids the drive to go the extra mile.”
Hogg said the mini Olympics tied in perfectly with Education Week.
“That's a week you typically get outside the classroom,” he said. “This year’s theme was ‘believe and achieve,’ so it ties in directly with our Olympic theme.”
Seventeen classes, each representing a foreign country, competed in a series of obstacles and relays to try and bring victory to their classroom.
“At the end of the day, each country is going to be judged on their performance in their relay, their overall sportsmanship, and the creativity in the banner and the flag that they come out with,” Hogg said.
The school is keeping track of the medal count on the bulletin board for team Canada at the Pyeongchang games, which students have taken a great interest in.
Ava Farrell, a Grade 4 student who represented Switzerland, loves figure skating and has been making a point to watch it on television.
“If I had to pick one (a favorite athlete) it would have to be Kaetlyn Osmond,” she said.
Cole Champion and his Grade 5 class represented Japan, and he said he learned a lot about his chosen country, such as the flag and its colors.
Champion himself is a very accomplished runner, managing a time of 22:25 for the five-kilometre run in the Centennial Cup. He said his favorite Olympic event to watch is ski-jumping.
Hogg and Parsons said the Sprucewood Mini Olympics wouldn't have been possible without volunteers.
“We had quite a few parents and community volunteers come in to man each station. We had people come in from the fire brigade,” said Hogg. “When you're putting 450 kids together it takes a lot of volunteers, and we had a lot of community volunteers, which is really good.”