Williams kindergarten students get into the Olympic spirit

jajones1@bradenton.comFebruary 22, 2014 

PARRISH -- Every Olympic year since 1994, Nancy McCabe's kindergarten students have been getting into the Olympic act.

The tradition continued Friday at Williams Elementary School. Children competed in cross country skiing, slalom skiing, skeleton sledding, two-person bobsled, speed skating and figure skating.

Carpet in the music room substituted for snow and ice, while recycling bins became bobsleds, slippers taped to boards became skis, and folded construction paper made slippery by cellophane tape became skates.

"We're not short in spirit and enthusiasm, even though we're short of snow and ice," said McCabe, who has been teaching 40 years. "We have learned a lot about sportsmanship, compromise, the events, and the value of practice and setting goals."

Just before the games began, the teacher asked her students what they had learned.

"What do we call sledders?" McCabe asked.

One little boy answered "slidders."

"What if someone fell in the slalom and did not complete the event," she asked. "What would they get?"

Did Not Complete, "DNF!" most of the kids shouted back.

After children marched around the music room and lighted a torch -- actually a lamp ringed with yellow and orange paper to simulate flames -- cross-country skiing opened the games.

The first Olympian, Katie Ferguson, clung to her mother, and said she didn't want to ski.

McCabe stepped up, and with a little coaxing, helped Katie into her skis, and watched as she skied the course in six seconds, good for the gold medal. Taking silver was Leyton Basso, while Irene Meler took bronze.

The Williams Olympics ended with figure skating, producing a tie between Hannah Lee and Grayson Meyer for first place. The children settled the tie by pulling cards. Hannah had the most points on her card and was awarded the gold, while Grayson received the silver.

That in itself was a lesson of how Olympic judging can produce a controversy.

"That was a tough solution," McCabe told her students. "I am so proud of you."

Kristy Lee, Hannah's mother and a teacher at Williams, loved the event.

"Hannah has been excited for weeks waiting for this. They learned a lot," Lee said.

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter: @jajones1.

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