HomeMt Laurel NewsFleetwood Elementary School celebrates their very own Olympics

Fleetwood Elementary School celebrates their very own Olympics

Students at Fleetwood Elementary School didn’t have to travel to Russia to get a taste of the Olympic experience.

They brought the Olympic experience to their school community.

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From kindergarten to fourth grade, every classroom in Fleetwood represented a different country and filled the all-purpose room with a variety of colors, costumes and flags.

Fleetwood hosted its Olympics celebration event last week, coinciding with the real 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Fleetwood has hosted its version of the Olympics every other year since the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

Carol Lynch, a physical education teacher at Fleetwood, started the event as a school-wide multicultural assignment. She said the event is a great way to bring lessons about foreign nations to the students in a way that’s easy for them to understand and also fun.

“The kids really get to understand the cultures and the countries they are representing,” she said. “I just wanted to bring the Olympic spirit into the kids’ lives.”

Marie Reynolds, the director of communications for Mt. Laurel schools, said the event allows the students to combine all their classes into one school wide project.

“They’ve all studied this as an all-inclusive curriculum,” she said.

The event began in the morning with the school’s version of the Parade of Nations, where the entire school marches in with flags of various nations.

“The entire school takes part and each classroom represents a different country,” Reynolds said. “They have an Olympic celebration in terms of a parade.”

Each student held a miniature flag with written details such as the nation’s culture, tradition, history and other facts. Each class did research on the country they represented.

After the Parade of Nations, the students watched videos on the Olympics and Sochi and recited the Olympic oath. Five students then lit the school’s Olympic cauldron to officially start the games.

As the years have gone on, Lynch has added activities reflecting on the country hosting the Olympics. This year, a Russian flair was added as fourth-grade students performed a Russian folk dance called the Troika, and another class told a story about Matryoshka dolls.

Thanks to an arrangement with The Healthy Garden restaurant in Moorestown, the students got a chance to try some ethnic Russian food later in the day. Some of the food the students got to try included a Russian version of a donut hole called ponchik and a fruity drink called compote.

“It was so nice they vested the time in making the food for us,” Lynch said.

The school was able to pay for the food thanks to a grant from the Mt. Laurel Education Association’s Pride in Public Education. The grant helped pay for updated flags and art supplies as well. Lynch said the Fleetwood PTO also assists with the events.

In past years, Lynch tries to put a special touch on the event by communicating with a school from the host country.

“China was the first one where I was looking for a school to communicate with,” she said.

The students had Skype sessions with students their age in China. While Lynch hasn’t lined up a similar session for the Olympic event itself, she is hoping some classes will be able to Skype with a Russian or Ukrainian class later this year.

Lynch said the Skype sessions bring the entire lesson of the Olympic project full circle. She hopes the students not only learn about other countries, but also about the importance of being multicultural and embodying the spirit of the Olympics.

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