Olympics used as route to cultural learning


March 03, 1998|By Sherry Graham | Sherry Graham,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

THE WINTER OLYMPICS concluded more than a week ago, but the inspiration the international games lent to schoolchildren everywhere was still going strong at Piney Ridge Elementary.

Students celebrated a Multi-Cultural Festival on Wednesday. The event was the culmination in a monthlong reading and writing program, "Olympic Challenge," which pushed students to higher learning goals and used the 18th Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, to motivate them.

Linda Coons and Jerry Resh, physical education teachers, developed the program. Posters of Snowlet, the Nagano mascot, were hung in the gym to encourage athletics.

Coons and Resh developed extensive activities and ideas that were incorporated by teachers at every grade level.

"At first we were just planning to make the Olympics part of our gym curriculum, but the idea for the Olympic Challenge just sort of mushroomed and we decided to get the whole school involved," Coons said.

Each grade focused on a different country. Students had an opportunity to share what they learned during the Multi-Cultural Festival. Students could visit six countries during gym. Nearly 100 students had a chance to serve as presenters, offering displays on countries.

Second-graders Ben Moore, 8, and Veronica Ruebeck, 7, gave a lesson in French as they named foods, pointed out the architectural interests of Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower and art by Monet.

"I really liked talking to the other people about France," said Veronica. "We learned a lot."

Jeff Lerman, 10, was an eager presenter at the fifth grade's display of Italy. Jeff detailed interesting facts about Venice's canal system and explained an intricately carved walking stick.

Kindergarten students studied the United States while first-graders presented Japan through displays of origami, haiku, samurai kites and music.

China was showcased by the third grade with tangrams (geometric puzzles), chopsticks and New Year's customs. Nutcrackers, decorative beer steins and famous composers highlighted the fourth-grade display on Germany.

"This really brought the whole school together," Coons said. "Every student knew about the event and participated in it."

More Olympics

Students in two fourth-grade classes at Freedom Elementary School held their own mini Olympics during the Winter Games. Students in Lucy Lotz and Ann Thompson's classes competed in academics, homework and behavior to win medals. Students were grouped in teams of four for the two-week event.

Each class held a medal ceremony last week to make the presentations. Instructional aide Margaret Hoff made sparkling gold, silver and bronze medals hung on beautiful ribbons for the winning teams. Hoff also made sure that the national anthem was heard during the ceremony.

In Lotz's class, the gold medal team was comprised of Jill Bankard, P. J. Graham, Kayla Johnson and Mark Miller. The silver went to Mallori Naill, Jesse Price, Christin Silva and Danny Spindler. Winning the bronze were Chris Bellin, Aaron Gilmore, Eric Ritchie and Jason Smith.

Winning teams in Thompson's class were: gold, Jamie Hess, Kelly Schraf, Morgan Seal and Lauren Tabor; silver, Christine Foster, Katie Patrick, Jenny Schissler and Kaitlynn Sommers; bronze, Bryan Jones, Matthew Mason, T. J. Somers and Katie Steers.

Healthy heart fair

"Germ Man" made an appearance at Carrolltowne Elementary School last week. He wasn't there to spread germs, but to offer tips on staying healthy.

The school's annual health fair presented nutrition, safety and exercise tips to students as they participated in the fair during their phys ed period.

A trooper from the state police barracks in Westminster reminded students about bike safety, the helmet law and the importance of always wearing seat belts in a car.

Vince and Larry, the crash test dummies, along with McGruff the Crime Dog, gave children important health and safety tips. Teen-age members of the Police Explorers portrayed Germ Man and helped at various stations.

A station provided by the county Health Department demonstrated hand-washing techniques to rid hands of germs. A circulatory obstacle course helped students learn the importance of maintaining a healthy heart.

Sherry Graham's Southeast neighborhood column appears Tuesdays in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

Pub Date: 3/03/98

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