In 2014 Benjamin Banneker Elementary School started a new student event as they hosted the first Banneker Olympic Games. This year as the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea began, the Banneker games became a tradition as both students and teachers celebrated the excitement of the international games and its worldwide camaraderie.
A partnership between the expressive arts and physical education classes, students had the opportunity to see what the olympic spirit is all about. First through fifth grade students not only learned about countries around the globe but actually competed in their own olympic events with each other.
Each expressive arts classroom was given a country to represent during the Banneker Olympics in February. With 24 countries represented, classroom time was spent learning the geography, basic economy and culture of each host country. This allowed children to learn about the differences and similarities between themselves and citizens around the world.
“[The Banneker Olympics] allow us to show students the importance of respecting diversity and seeing its presence in our society,” said Banneker Principal Dr. Bobbie Kilgore. “Students make connections between the Olympic games and the countries around the world and see how we are all different but alike as well.”
Starting as an idea from physical education teacher Mike Casale and multiple intelligence art teacher Vicky Hudson in 2014 as a way for children to learn about teamwork and sportsmanship, the entire school became involved making it a program that stressed education as well as physical health. Students were able to research the meaning and purpose behind the Olympics and what the different olympic sports involved.
“The competition brings students together as they work as a team,” said Casale. “They are working on fitness, effort and hustle while also learning communication and strategizing to accomplish a common goal.”
On Friday February 23, wearing goggles that displayed their host country’s flag, the final ‘bobsled’ and ‘skiing’ events were held in the gym and students and teachers competed by pushing each other on scooters during several heats. The winners were recognized that day by receiving medals and trophies during the closing ceremonies.
“The events brings classes closer together regardless if they win or lose,” said Casale. “Through researching their host county and competing for the medals our students learned some valuable classroom and life lessons that they can take with them.”
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