AMHERST – PyeongChang, South Korea is a long way from Amherst, but students at Spring Street Academy are closing the distance.
Just as was the case four years ago, when Sochi, Russia hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics, students at the Amherst elementary school celebrated the opening of the 2018 games in South Korea with their own take of the opening ceremonies on Wednesday.
White said he got the idea for celebrating the Olympics after participating in the 2010 Winter Games torch run leading up to the Vancouver Olympics.
“I’ve always been a fan of the Olympics and in 2010 I was chosen to be a torch bearer. When I came back they made a big deal of it and we ran with the torches here,” he said. “With the Olympics happening again I talked to the teachers and they told me I should do it again.”
With all the enthusiasm in the school following the torch run he decided to do something to celebrate the Olympic spirit when Russia hosted the games four years ago.
The event was such a success that he decided to do it again this time.
“Some of the younger students remembered what we did four years ago and they were asking about it. They remembered the medals we gave out and wanted to do it again,” White said.
During the two weeks of the Olympics the students will learn about the games, the Olympic movement and participate in some of the sports in a non-competitive fashion. Since there’s no mountains, skeleton or bobsled tracks or skating rinks inside Spring Street Academy, White has found a way to improvise the various sports.
“Every student is going to get an opportunity to participate all the sports,” he said. “You’d be surprised how much many of them already know about the bobsled or the skeleton.”
He said having Olympians such as Clara Hughes visit the school helped the students learn about the Olympic sports.
Along with learning about the Olympics, the students are also learning about Korean culture.
Students learned their routines for the opening ceremonies in White’s physical education classes. The students only had two classes to prepare and they performed in front of their fellow students during an assembly on Wednesday that included invited guests such as Mayor David Kogon, school board member David Myles and recreation director Bill Schurman.
Principal Heather Janes-Pedersen credits White for bringing the Olympics to the students. She said many of the virtues of an Olympian are similar to what the school is attempting to instill in the children.
“We embrace the teaching of virtues and the Olympics exemplify so many of the virtues we try to instill in our children, such as commitment, perseverance and excellence,” she said.