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UA Olympics: Students Recreate and Create Their Own Competitions

Olympic Fever has swept through Urban Academy as the junior athletics department led the UA Olympics! All throughout the Olympic season, grade K-4 students have watched clips from the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and replicated them in their P.E. classes. Rolling rocks make for curling, pool noodles make for torches, and cheering kids make for an incredible audience. “It was fun for us because we were excited about the sport but it was really fun for the kids because they would see new sports and be involved in something that is happening right now in the world,” said Mrs. McBride, UA’s Primary P.E. Specialist.

These activities have been led by Mrs. McBride and Mr. MacKay, a fellow leader of the Primary P.E. department, who found very creative solutions to bring the scale of the Olympics to a level that students can thrive in. A lot of the ideas came from students themselves, who were free to find ways to bring their favourite sports to the gym. That meant tying scarves under shoes for figure skating, putting pool noodles under their feet and holding bats as poles for cross-country skiing, and all sorts of gliding around the UA gymnasium. “Students responded the most to creativity,” said Mr. MacKay. “When you give creative control to the kids, they come up with so many great ideas.”

The Olympics haven’t just been replicated in the gym; it’s been expanded on. The P.E. class has invented a brand new sport that’s taking the grade by storm. Some call it Twaitesball (in tribute to UA’s Mr. Twaites, who had nothing to do with its creation), some call it Super Seven Ball, some call it Great Eight Ball; whatever it’s called, it’s an electric combination of Keepaway and handball. The energy is electric as hard battles are fought and won, champions take on each other, and a winning team emerges after several rounds of games.

While many grade 6 students participate as athletes, it’s far from where student participation stops. Students announce the teams as they run into the dimmed gym while “Thunderstruck” plays, journalists interview players for a post-game show, artists create signs to cheer their peers on. Students even lead halftime shows. “It takes on a life of its own,” said Mr. MacKay. “Kids contribute in so many unique ways.”

Two of the unconventional student participants are Mia Gracia and Sarika Menon who make up the two-student media department. Sarika interviews the players on camera and Mia edits the footage together to make a ‘broadcast’ for the class to watch. Throughout their process of filming, Sarika found that the enthusiasm from other students made their job much easier. “It’s quite fun, actually,” Sarika says. “You get to interview players and find out what they like about the game and find their interests.” Mia was sure to add that “putting together the video is fun.” “Also, seeing the bloopers at the end,” Sarika interjected. “That’s always the best.”

It’s clear that sport and student ingenuity are a natural pairing, and opportunities like the UA Olympics and Twaitesball are prime examples of what happens when students are given the space to let their imaginations run wild.

?: Ms: Jean