Going for gold at Glynn A. Green Olympics

Kasey Mayher speeds toward the ring—sans sweepers—in the human curling event at Glynn A. Green's Winter Olympics. VOICE PHOTO


School hosts own version of the winter event


To mark the quadrennial games, Glynn A. Green Elementary School held its own Winter Olympics last Wednesday, squaring students off in five different sports in the schoolyard.

“We were going to have it on Thursday, but it’s going to pour rain. It’s perfect out today—only a little bit windy,” said the school’s principal, Pam Voth.

Just after lunch, Grades 5 and above assembled in 10 different groups outside on the snow-covered basketball court. Each group was assigned a nationality, and the Grade 8 team captains held homemade flags above their heads, while the rest of the team had country colours painted on their faces.

“To be honest, we chose the countries that had the easiest flags to draw,” said Voth, pointing to the French tri-colour in a student’s hands.

“Russia, Netherlands, Japan, France—all of these are very simple. Trying to paint a Canadian maple leaf on a face would have been so much more difficult.”

Each group attempted to roar louder than the last when their nation’s name was called out. The students didn’t seem to mind that they weren’t representing their home country. (The number of mercenary athletes at the real Olympics seems to grow ever larger anyhow.)

After giving competitors a rundown of the events— hockey, luge, human curling, snowball carry, and slingshot shooting—the teacher providing instructions offered a reminder.

“Remember—you get twenty minutes at each station the longer it takes for you to settle down and listen at each event, the fewer runs you get.”

The kids seemed to listen, and when they were released, all ran off to their first assigned station.

Voth wandered past the human curling location on her way to luge.

“They pushed all the snow from the parking lot here,” she said. “I thought, ‘Oh great, just what we need here, a berm.’ But it’s worked out perfectly for the games.”

The Grade 8 in charge of curling demonstrated the proper technique, sitting himself in a tube sled and trundling down the slope towards a bright green hula-hoop in the snow.

“You’re not supposed to touch the ground with your hands or feet,” he said.

“I tried that out this morning,” said Voth.

Earlier in the day, Grades 1 through 4 had run through all the games, and were now inside for their Valentine’s Day parties.

Near the curling rink was the luge track, which saw participants trade their tube toboggans for crazy carpets. At the top of the hill, two at a time, kids climbed aboard the sleds and raced down. A Grade 8 at the bottom dropped his arm, motioning for them to start.

“There’s no run-up allowed,” he said. “Just a push from a teammate.”

Teacher Shawn Haining observed the action from the bottom of the hill. Haining has taught at Glynn A. Green for some time, and remembered the Winter Olympics held four years ago, though he said that Voth’s arrival this year brought new ideas for the day.

“[Pam] is so great at organizing events for the kids,” said Haining. “She’s been outside all day, too, ducking inside to get the work done that she needs to.”

Haining said that a dramatic increase in precautions has made it difficult for schools to continue to hold such activities.

“My wife was telling me that when she went to school, they brought wood and supplies and were allowed to actually build a tree fort on school property,” he said. “The test for the fort was whether it could hold the principal’s weight. Now, you’re not even allowed to go near a tree.”

Haining emphasized that new safety precautions were generally a good thing, but praised Voth’s ability to both keep the school safe and to allow students to “play and be kids.”

“We still go on skating trips—most places don’t do that,” he said.

Voth confirmed that she had made sure that all of the events were entirely harmless. Indeed, the hockey players were using flexible sticks that posed no risk to anyone else on the snow rink.

At the slingshot station, pairs of students held apart two ends of a big elastic, while a third student pulled a Pepsi ball back on it and flung it forward into the snow. Behind the teacher’s back, a few students made half-hearted throws of snowballs at one another, but they relented upon a first warning.

The face paint and homemade flags aside, the students might just have been playing any other schoolyard games, but over at the snowball race, two boys were engaging in a playful diplomatic disagreement over whose country was superior. In the end though, they agreed to direct their real ire towards another country, and riffed off of real-life Olympics events.

“There’s Russia over there,” said one of the boys to the other. “They’re probably all doping.”

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