Last Modified: Saturday, February 15, 2014 3:28 PM
There are no sleds, ice or medals, but the Winter Olympics are in full swing during Barbe High School’s girls P.E. classes.
Teachers Jill Nunez and Kelly Durio are guiding students through makeshift versions of Olympic events and live-streaming the actual games during class. The unofficial games have sparked greater participation and interest in the classes.
Friday’s “bobsled” races featured pairs on adjacent scooters, propelling themselves around the basketball court with a variety of strategies, including foot-pedalling, belly crawling and not-so-accurate steering.
“They come up with all kinds of stuff,” Nunez said. “They love it. It keeps them entertained; it is something different. Next week we will have hockey.”
Students are competing for prizes and representing fictional countries.
“We have nine teams. Whoever finishes first in each event gets nine points and so on, then at the end of the Olympics we will have a team champion,” Nunez said.
“We do it every year to keep the girls interested, do different things. It is fun. It makes it so much easier to have the Olympics on so that they can see what is
going on. They make up their own country. They have to find a color with the same countries. They have to include where the Olympics are this year and make up some stuff, like a capital and famous people who are from there. They get creative. Most of the time they combine their own names to make the name of the country.”
Students get a practice day to experiment with different strategies before competing for points.
“They find what works for them and pair up within each team,” Nunez said. “Some of them work better with each other, so they might change up the teams.”
Nunez said interest in the actual Olympics being shown on a projector varies from class to class.
“It depends on what event is on,” she said. “When the halfpipe (snowboarding) was on, they didn’t want to get dressed, they didn’t want to go to class — they wanted to watch. One of the classes this morning was really into the curling. It depends on what is going on. Sometimes they will get interested and ask a lot of questions, want to know about the rules. We had to look up the curling rules. They wanted to know how they steered during the skeleton races; we were able to learn how crazy that is and how fast they go.”
Nunez said the games are a hit with students.
“This is the most involved we can get students,” she said. “We do everything we can to get them involved. They really like it. Since it is team, the others will encourage them to participate. You have to give them something different. It is easier on teachers if they are enjoying it. Now they are getting exercise and having fun.”
The offbeat games have been popular among students who are not interested in traditional sports.
“With girls, it is easier if it is something they can do,” Nunez said. “If we do basketball or track, some will be a lot better than others, some will clearly be faster than others or jump further than others, so some will not want to try it. It is not easy for everybody. But with this, everyone is willing to try.
“Basketball was probably the least favorite thing they did. They loved badminton; that is another thing where everyone can play — they can all hit the birdie. They are not embarrassed. You can do it even if you have never touched a racquet. With these, they don’t use scooters every day and no one is better than anyone else. It is surprising, some of the quietest kids become the big competitors. They get to show their personalities.”
Nunez said she is a big fan of the Olympics and is glad to see her students enjoy them as well.
“I love the Olympics. It is my favorite,” she said. “With this, I enjoy just like looking at the students. How many P.E. classes do you go into where they are exercising and having fun at the same time? I love it this year because they are asking about the Olympics a lot. Some of them have never watched it before.”