Published Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 12:01 am / Updated at 3:08 pm
Let the games begin

Bell Elementary School’s weekly all-school assembly was more spirited than usual on Friday.

In addition to routine announcements and recognitions, students celebrated the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.

Teachers at the school all decided that they wanted to do something to recognize and incorporate the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, said physical education teacher Molly Checksfield.

“The Olympics only happen every four years,” Checksfield said. “I think it’s important that kids see that people put aside political and religious differences for this. It helps seeing that everybody has differences and to be able to accept that is important in every day life.”

For the assembly, each class was assigned a different country.

Checksfield said she tried to pick smaller countries that students may not have been as familiar with, such as Slovakia and Austria.

“We want them to be aware of different countries,” Checksfield said. “That’s why I tried to pick random countries, so they see different ones instead of the main ones.”

Leading up to the assembly, students researched their assigned countries in class.

Brayden Brandvold, 11, and his sixth-grade class represented Greece. They spent the week researching Greece, from what the country’s flag looks like to what the local cuisine is like.

“We made a big poster with Greece’s flag and interesting facts,” Brayden said.

Dylann Ehegartner’s fourth-grade class represented Slovakia.

Dylann, 10, and her classmates spent the week studying the country to find out how to best decorate their poster. So far, they’ve found out that the Slovakian Olympians are good at bobsledding.

During the assembly, students wore colors representing their countries. Each class sent a representative to the front of the gym with a poster of their country’s flag.

Students also recited the Bell Elementary Olympic oath. In it, they pledged to respect their peers, teachers and rules of the games in order to create fun memories.

Teacher Melissa McCain introduced a new Olympic sport at the school — reading.

McCain challenged students to track the time they spend in school reading. Individual students will be recognized at the end of the week in true Olympics fashion — on a podium, with medals going to the top three finishers.

“Reading for the Olympics is going to be trickier because the whole school is participating,” Dylann said. “It’s not just one person.”

In addition to an individual reading challenge, there will also be a class challenge. The class with the most minutes of reading time will win a pizza party. One class will win for kindergarten through second grade and one class will win from third through sixth grades.

“I think it’s going to be fun,” Brayden said. “I’m going to try to win because I love to read. I think it’s cool to involve reading, because normally it’s just athletes.”

In addition to studying the countries in class and hosting opening ceremonies, students are also participating in mini-Olympic Games during their physical education classes.

The games include scooter hockey, luge and human curling.

In their gym classes, students are split into small groups, each representing a different country. Just like in the real Olympic Games, teams are competing to see who can win the most medals.

Classes will follow their countries through the end of the games on Feb. 23.

Megan Rannells, 7, and her second-grade class represented Poland. While Megan enjoyed the school’s opening ceremonies, she’s looking forward to watching the real games, especially snowboarding.

Brayden is also looking forward to watching snowboarding, particularly the half-pipe.

Dylann’s favorite event to watch is bobsledding.

“It’s cool,” she said. “I like that it’s really fast-paced.”

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