Cougars get taste of Sochi

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Gerardo Gomez Rodriguez and David Lopez Banda try their hands as “sweepers” in the curling event at the Kennedy Elementary School Winter Olympics. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Gerardo Gomez Rodriguez and David Lopez Banda try their hands as “sweepers” in the curling event at the Kennedy Elementary School Winter Olympics. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

The students of Kennedy Elementary School have spent the past three weeks getting hand-on opportunities to play in their own Winter Olympics.

The physical education unit, developed by teacher Natalie Clark, has been such a hit that students are buzzing about medals and the games they play long after they leave class.

“I didn’t think it was going to get as big as it has. It was supposed to be one week and we’re on week three,” Clark said.

Not only are students getting their own versions of events like curling, hockey, speed skating, bobsled, skeleton and slalom skiing, they are building their vocabulary and honing math and geography skills. Clark started by having teams in each classroom decide which country they wanted to represent and draw up their flags.

“Then I found the national anthems for each country and each team carried the torch around the gym twice while their anthem played,” Clark said.

The teams were embroiled in rounds of curling Tuesday, Feb. 25, but there were also student referees helping the teams calculate how many points they earned.

Curling was accomplished by sliding beanbags and “sweepers” paving the way with rubber bats. In speed skating, students put scarves down under their shoes and slid around a makeshift rink. But it was bobsled that seemed to garner the most enthusiasm, Clark said.

“We hooked three scooters together with ropes and, with a team of four, three sat and one pulled, then they rotated when they got to the end of the gym,” she said.

Medals were earned not by notching the highest scores, but through use of positive words and playing with integrity and good sportsmanship. At the end of the unit, the team with the most gold medals in each class will get their choice of activity for the next week.

“One of the biggest parts was working with them on how to build a team and work for each other,” Clark said. “We knew the Winter Olympics were coming up and our student population isn’t one that usually follows sports. This was a good way to get vocabulary in with names of sports, get geography in with flags and practice good sportsmanship.”

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