SOUTHINGTON - Students at Flanders Elementary School got in on the Olympic spirit Thursday as teachers taught them about the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games and performed a mock torch passing.
Elementary school students gathered in the gym of the school at 100 Victoria Drive, waving flags of the different countries participating in the Olympic games.
The basketball hoops were decorated with the Olympic flag and its five rings, which physical education teacher Diane Cavaliere later explained represent each continent and the colors of each country’s flag.
Cavaliere greeted the students by saying ‘welcome’ in English, Chinese, Danish, Finish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Spanish and Ukrainian.
Teachers and students, who had been broken up into groups representing each participating country, were then asked to cheer when their country’s name was called. Countries represented included Italy, Poland, Ireland, England, Canada, China, Japan, France, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Sweden, Austria, Morocco, Monaco, Ecuador, Spain, Denmark, Norway, Chile, Finland, Switzerland and India.
Cavaliere explained how the T-shirt she wore, which said “Team Tucker” was made for supporters of Tucker West, an athlete from Ridgefield who was competing as a luger (ice sledding).
She then showed a video of West explaining how his father had taught him the value of hard work and determination and not stopping until a job was done. West’s father supported his son’s dream by going to Home Depot and building him a luger track in his backyard.
“Perhaps one of you in the audience has dreamed to be an Olympic athlete,” said Cavaliere. “I hope that this story inspires you.”
Cavaliere said that the modern tradition of passing a torch and then lighting a cauldron to signify the start of the games began in 1936. Athletes, she explained, would run all across the country and would sometimes pass the torch to celebrities and ordinary people alike before ultimately reaching where the games would be held.
“The torch has come to represent spirit, knowledge and life,” she said.
At that point, Karen Smith, former assistant superintendent of schools, entered the room carrying a paper torch.
The torch was passed between several faculty members before ultimately being handed to Sally Kamerbeek, who was interim principal at the school last year. Kamerbeek then climbed a ladder and placed the torch in the netting of the basketball hoop as the children cheered and clapped.
Finally, the teachers rolled out a makeshift bobsled and the kids continued to clap and cheer while three teachers sat down on it and Cavaliere pushed them around the room. As dance music started to play, the kids got up, clapping their hands and dancing with their teachers for the rest of the assembly.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.