Team spirit ran high as students from Lehighton's Mahoning Elementary took part in their annual Olympic Day.
The program serves as a day to get students out of the classroom and into some friendly "international" competition. Boys and girls in kindergarten through fourth grade were broken into five teams representing the United States, Canada, Norway, Mexico, and Japan for a full day of athletic competition.
The day also taught students about the upcoming summer Olympic Games, which will take place in London this July. Students learned about the games, Olympic flag and torch, and repeated the Olympic oath while pledging to take part in the day "in the true spirit of sportsmanship … for the glory of the sport and the honor of our country."
After a short opening ceremony and a homing pigeon release coordinated by Mr. and Mrs. William Klotz, students took turns competing at eight different activity stations.
They completed obstacle courses, a three-legged race, sack hop, and water balloon toss, with winners from each class and grade earning points for their "country."
"It's all about sportsmanship and having fun," said Georgianna Messinger, the physical education teacher at Mahoning Elementary. "They're learning about fitness and health, and that it's important to get out and get active. We just go out and have a good time."
Messinger has been organizing Olympic Day for more than 20 years.
For students, it was a fun day and a good reminder to stay active. Getting out into the sunshine (and a few raindrops) on a school day didn't hurt, either.
"It's fun to be out in the nice weather," said Kylie Kresge, a fourth-grade student at the school. "I like the water balloons. It's fun to toss them, and you get wet."
The day ended with a short parade and closing ceremony. Fourth-grade students, carrying flags representing their five "countries," went to each classroom to gather younger students for the parade while the Olympic anthem played.
During the ceremony, Messinger announced that the first place winner for the day was students representing Japan. Second and third place were awarded to "Mexico" and "Norway," with "Canada" and the "United States" earning fourth and fifth place.
As Messinger reminded students, "We're all winners. You were a team, and you all worked together," she said. "I saw a lot of people having fun today."
She thanked the Mahoning Elementary PTO for sponsoring the event, and for faculty, staff, and parent volunteers for making the annual event possible.