SOUTHINGTON - Students at Flanders Elementary School got into the Olympic spirit Thursday as teachers taught them about the 2018 Olympic Winter Games and performed a mock passing of the torch.
The students gathered in the school’s gym, waving flags of countries participating in the Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, which began on Thursday.
The basketball hoops were decorated with the Olympic flag and its five rings.
Physical education teacher Diane Cavaliere greeted the students by saying “welcome’”in English, Chinese, Danish, Finish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Spanish and Ukrainian.
Teachers and students, who had been broken up into groups representing each participating country, were then asked to cheer when their country’s name was called.
Countries represented included Italy, Poland, Ireland, England, Canada, China, Japan, France, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Sweden, Austria, Morocco, Monaco, Ecuador, Spain, Denmark, Norway, Chile, Finland, Switzerland and India.
Cavaliere then explained how the T-shirt she wore, which said “Team Tucker,” had been made for supporters of Tucker West, an athlete from Ridgefield who competes in luge also known as ice sledding.
She then showed a video of West explaining how his father had taught him the value of hard work and determination and not stopping until a job was done.
West’s father supported his son’s dream by building him a luge track in his backyard.
“Perhaps one of you in the audience has dreamed to be an Olympic athlete,” said Cavaliere. “I hope that this story inspires you.”
Cavaliere said that the modern tradition of passing a torch and lighting a cauldron to signify the start of the games began with the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics.
Athletes, she explained, run across the country where the Games are being held and pass the torch to celebrities and ordinary people alike before ultimately reaching the Olympic stadium.
“The torch has come to represent spirit, knowledge and life,” she said.
At that point, Karen Smith, a former assistant superintendent of schools, entered the room carrying a paper torch.
The torch was passed among several faculty members before ultimately being handed to Sally Kamerbeek, who was interim principal at the school last year.
Kamerbeek then climbed a ladder and placed the torch in the net of the basketball hoop as the children cheered and clapped.
Teachers then rolled out a makeshift bobsled and the students continued to clap and cheer as three teachers sat on it and Cavaliere pushed them around the room.
As dance music started to play, the children got up, clapping and dancing with their teachers for the rest of the assembly.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.