Let the games be a win-win

Potato sack and tricycle races replaced more traditional Olympic contests like gymnastics and the long jump Friday at Olympic Day at Holy Redeemer School in Montrose.

In this version of the Olympic Games, teams were determined not by country, but by grade level.

Student competitors didn’t train as long as their Olympic counterparts, but they cheered on their teammates like the whole world was watching.

The school’s Olympic Day started a few years ago as an end-of-the-year treat for students, and a way to promote exercise and foster sportsmanship, educators at the school said.

“It’s basically a fun day for the kids to be active, to play,” said Kathy Piumetti, a third-grade teacher at the school.

The games kicked off with a potato sack relay race. Students submerged themselves in the child-sized bags and hopped across the athletic field behind the school at full-speed.

Their classmates looked on, hopping up and down in anticipation as they waited their turn.

Next came the tug of war. When the fifth-graders faced the sixth-graders, the tugging was over in mere seconds, with the sixth-graders winning even though they had fewer people on their team.

Marlina Barnett-Crespo, 12, thought she knew why her class came out on top.

“Because we’ve got the muscles,” she shouted.

Lauren Tominac, 11, was more subdued about the victory.

“We didn’t put our full power to it, because we knew we were going to beat them anyway,” she said.

Alliances were formed. After the sixth-graders beat the fifth-graders in the tug of war, the fifth-graders rooted for the eighth-graders in their matchup against the sixth-graders.

But the messiest competition was the sponge relay.

A line of students had to pass a wet sponge over their heads and try to conserve the water the sponge carried in the process.

They were trying to fill a plastic soda bottle with water the fastest by dunking the sponge in a bucket and passing it down the line.

“Getting wet, that was the funnest,” 9-year-old Britni Delgado said.

While the older students did the sponge relay, the younger students took part in a tricycle race around the school’s playground.

Sixth-grade teacher Lisa Tush appreciates the day because the team sports are departure from the more individualistic academics.

“I think they really work together as a class,” Tush said.

 ANGELA HOKANSON covers education. She may be reached at (818) 637-3238 or by e-mail at angelahokanson@latimes.com.

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