On the day of the Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Sochi, Russia, Rockford elementary students held their own version in the school gym complete with tiny flags and patriotic pageantry. Meadow Ridge Elementary turned its classrooms into a virtual venue of sport and games all day, sans scoring. Younger students split into 44 countries and roamed among 22 host-country classrooms, where fifth-graders organized games and gave mini-geography lessons about their nations.
In Egypt, students built a sphinx from toothpicks and marshmallows. In Russia they ice-skated on wax paper. The library was Australia, colored paper on gym mats serving as a swimming pool.
“Welcome to Australia,” fifth-grader Will Carlson greeted developmental kindergartners carrying flags from Sweden and the U.S.A. “(I) will be your guide to the land down under.” Then students wriggled on their backs through the paper mounds in a waterless version of the back stroke.
Fifth-grader Olivia Carey started off the day by bearing into the gym a torch fashioned from a flashlight and crepe paper. She gave the Olympic oath pledging “the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honor of our teams.”
Principal Blake Bowman told students he fell in love with the Olympics as a boy when the U.S. hockey team won gold in 1980. But the Olympics aren’t all about winning, he said. He cited inspiring athletes such as Eddie “the Eagle” Edwards, who gained fame at the 1988 Olympics despite finishing last in ski jumping.
“Today I want you guys to fly like Eddie the Eagle,” Bowman told the students. For the rest of the day, they flew.