Olympic Values, History Celebrated at the Junior School

Grade 5 students at the Junior School, under the leadership and guidance of Mr. Gary Barber, spent the last 10 weeks researching, studying and learning all things Olympic Games and Olympism.

Gary has been working closely with the International Olympic Committee on helping to further develop the Olympic Values Education Programme and create a learning experience related to the Olympics that can be taught in classrooms around the world. Our Grade 5 students helped pilot the educational program.

“As a teacher, I’ve always wanted to share Olympic values – which are the Pursuit of Excellence, Friendship and Respect, with the children,” Gary says. “The essence of the program is giving them activities to explore various elements – the torch, the Olympic truce, the dove as the symbol of peace, the Olympic oath, influential athletes in history, the way the Olympic Games have transformed countries and cultures, and have brought people together.”

The students also touched on the challenges of the Olympic Games, such as cheating and intolerance.

“The program tries to develop skills based around the Olympic values that extend into their lives. We want to empower them to make good choices, learn how to be a good friend, accept and value differences and diversity, and respect themselves and others,” Gary says. “Many of these elements are embedded in our school’s mission and vision; it’s not much of an extension of what we cherish at SMUS.”

Tangibly, the Olympics were integrated into history, social studies, art and English lessons.

Last Friday, the Olympic program culminated in a day-long event at the Junior School. During the day, the students shared their work and what they’ve learned with their younger schoolmates. In the evening, parents were invited to the school to see the students’ learning in action.

SMUS-JS-Gr5-Olympics-02Each of the Grade 5 classes presented a play: one on the history of the Ancient Olympics and one that was a courtroom drama related to doping at the Olympics. Parents and audience members then played the role of jury, and had the opportunity to debate and discuss the question: Is cheating in sport ever justified?

The school was also honoured to welcome five professional athletes (three who have competed at the Olympics, and two who are training for a spot on Team Canada for the upcoming Summer Games in Rio). The athletes were Adam Kreek (Olympic gold medalist rowing 8s), Hilary Stellingwerff (Olympic 1,500m runner), Dave Calder (Olympic silver medalist coxless pairs), Rachel Francois (runner) and Thomas Riva (runner). Deanna Binder, a longtime International Olympic Committee education consultant, was also in attendance to impart her knowledge.

We wish to congratulate the Grade 5 students and Mr. Barber on organizing and hosting an exceptionally informative and entertaining event!

Student Reflections

SMUS-JS-Gr5-Olympics-03“All term I have been participating in Olympic Club. In Olympic Club I learned about how some athletes would cheat just to win their races. I also learned about the Olympic Oath, which was said in the ceremony before the games, and about how peace and unity are a big part of the Olympics. Then, last Friday, we celebrated the end of the club after school with our parents. Our class performed one play and the other Grade 5 class performed a different one. I was in the Greek play as one of the narrators and the other play was a courtroom drama. In between the two plays I got to show my parents around. I enjoyed showing my mom and dad the posters that talked about cheating in sport. We also saw the world record for high jump – I was amazed at how high it was! It was also interesting to read the questions that were passed around my table after the second play about cheating in sports. We each got to come up with our own answer which was fun because everyone usually had a different opinion. Overall, I had an exciting time during the Olympic Day and I learned a lot.” – by Reede

“Last Friday it was Olympic Day at the Junior School, which concluded the Grade 5 Olympic Club. In the Olympic Club, we learned about the history of the Olympics, about the Olympic Oath, cheating in sports and a few more topics about Olympism. My favourite part of Olympic Day was meeting the Olympic athletes. I was amazed that Dave Calder qualified for four Olympic Games. I thought that it was incredible that even after he was disqualified for going out of his lane in the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, he was determined to get a medal at one of the Olympics, and at the 2008 Beijing Games, he won a silver medal. My second favorite part was giving tours to the younger grades. I felt like I was being a leader by sharing with them everything that I had learned during the Olympic Club and showing them all the work that we did during the program. The Olympic Night was wonderful because we got to meet a lot of past, present and future Olympians. During the evening, the other Grade 5 class performed an entertaining Greek play about the ancient Olympics, and our class performed a ‘Courtroom Drama’ about whether cheating in sport is ever justified, and then the parents and audience members discussed whether cheating is ever justified. The Olympic Club was very interesting because we had the opportunity to learn information that we would never have known otherwise. Overall, it was a very fun and educational experience. Thank you to Mr. Barber for teaching us about the Olympics and organizing the Olympic Day events.” – by Daniel

SMUS-JS-Gr5-Olympics-04“On Friday during the Olympic Night I got to meet Olympians from the past, present and future. One Olympian I met was Dave Calder. He was a silver medalist in rowing and had some unbelievable stories about his experience. Another thing we did that night was take our parents around the gym to show them all of the work that we had made throughout the term. We saw our ancient vases and tea-stained newspaper articles. We also performed a play about the ancient Olympics in Greece. I got to run across the stage with Zeus’ lightning bolt! My favourite part of the whole experience was being able to meet the athletes and hear their stories, beliefs and rituals they do before their competitions. It was a great experience that I will never forget.” – by Ava

“Last Friday we had our Olympic Day, which included five Olympic athletes coming to the school. My favourite thing was the courtroom drama. I liked it because we got to act out our different roles and then discuss the question at hand, which was: is cheating in sport ever justified? I played the defendant. After discussing the case, every group, which was made of parents, students and athletes, thought it was never justified. I also liked the Greek play that the other class performed because it was funny, but also gave information about the ancient Olympics. My favourite part was Zeus’s joke about lightning (“Would that be a Usain Bolt of lighting?”). Overall, I think the day was very good and I would do it again next year if I could.” – by Jonah

Check out more photos from Olympic Night at the SMUS Photo Gallery.

(photos by Kyle Slavin)


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