The Sochi torch may burn bright for another few days, but the flame has been extinguished in the first-ever MHS Olympics. Still, the spirit created by the week-long PTA-sponsored event will live on both emotionally and physically for the students as they continue to embody the values set forth and as they enjoy the new MHS rock wall purchased through a successful fundraiser!
“It was an absolute success because we had so many parents and students and staff supporting the program,” said Principal Renee Schoonover. “Our PTA was phenomenal in organizing it.”
From the opening ceremonies to the closing ceremonies, students in kindergarten thru fifth grade experienced Olympic-themed activities not only in their gym classes, but in all their specials as well: music, art, library, guidance, Spanish, and even homeroom classes. The purpose of the Olympics was to generate school spirit, teamwork, and camaraderie throughout the school as well as introduce a new school fundraiser – class collections toward creating a horizontal rock wall in the MHS gym.
Organizers say both goals were achieved...and more.
“We exceeded our expectations and raised a lot more money than we even anticipated but the coolest part was that we involved everybody in the school to do different projects and brought everybody together for a common cause. That’s the coolest part and most fun – everybody working as one big team,” said physical education teacher Jennifer Gold, a coordinator and ceremonial emcee.
"We could not be happier with the positive response we have received from the kids and the teachers," said Elementary PTA President Tracy Russo. "And the parents' and families' support was so outstanding -- it just goes to show what an amazing community we live in."
Students wore their assigned color of the Olympic rings – blue, yellow, red, green, or black – as well as the spirited “orange” for the kindergarteners – throughout the week as they competed to see who could raise the most money through loose change and monetary donations. Students were also encouraged to employ the seven Olympic values including respect, determination, excellence, courage, friendship, equality, and inspiration throughout the week.
“I liked that every class was wearing different colors – that was really cool!” said kindergartner Arden Zegura. “The Olympics is about teamwork like we had here at school. I loved the closing ceremony when everyone was in the gym, and we all got to jump up and cheer!”
“The building was full of excitement!” effused Principal Schoonover. “Students were anxious to participate; they were eager to go to gym class; they brought in many sponsors; the colors and team spirit were amazing; and the collaboration was over the top!”
The winners for each grade level were awarded a class trophy and prize. Mr. Mike White’s kindergarten class won an extra gym class; Miss Lindsey Moriarty’s first graders and Mrs. Carolyn Newman’s second graders won an extra outdoor recess with Principal Renee Schoonover; Mrs. Kim DePaula’s third grade class, Mrs. Jill Grano’s fourth grade class, and Mrs. Rose Bradbourne’s fifth grade class each won an outdoor adventure field trip to Hiram House camp.
“Winning made it fun; doing the activities made it fun; there was a lot of stuff that made it fun!” said third grader Jakaela Jackson.
Jakaela was part of Mrs. DePaula’s class which raised the most money overall for the school. Along with a trophy that will be passed on through the years, the students won a dance party in their gym class. Check out the students’ excitement at hearing the announcement by clicking here.
More than 18-thousand dollars was raised for the school which will enable the PTA to purchase the rock wall as well as provide various other programs that benefit the students and the teachers. The Orange Schools Foundation paid for the installation of the rock wall, making it all a community-wide effort.
Third grader Collin Gest had an extra special moment when he got to present an actual Olympic torch carried by Muhammad Ali.
“It made it extra special and nice for me since the torch is a part of my family and will one day be passed on to me,” he said. “When I heard our school was going to do the Olympics, I was like, ‘YES!!!’”
The Cuyahoga County Library Orange Branch also got into the MHS Olympic spirit and provided Olympic-themed activities for students that visited during the week. Each student that visited received a “Certificate of Achievement” that will be valid for a prize from the treasure box at Lakeshore Learning. Mrs. Elana Blake’s fourth grade class had the most students that visited the library, and her classroom will receive a beautiful new globe from Lakeshore Learning.
From participating in an interactive session with 2010 Bobsled Olympian Jamie Moriarty to “lighting” their own Olympic torch; from the fifth graders playing the Olympic Fanfare to all students learning spirit cheers in both English and Spanish; from entering the MHS Olympic arena for the first time with cheers and excitement to celebrating with “teammates” after all of their victories, the students are eager to carry the flame of the Olympic spirit on for a long time to come.
“This program should continue – not just because we’ll get more equipment and field trips and stuff like that but because it brings everybody together and helps them make new friends,” said fifth grader Sophia Hamilton. “That’s just a really nice feeling.”
To view all of the photos and videos from the opening and closing ceremonies, please check out our Orange Schools Facebook page by clicking here.