Saturday, January 21, 2006
Steamboat Springs Few combinations are as stirring to the heart as music, children and the Olympic spirit.
With songs, a torch relay and even tumblers, students at Soda Creek Elementary School honored local Olympic athletes, past and present, Thursday during two special celebrations in the school's gymnasium.
An afternoon dress rehearsal -- before the night's big event -- began with a bona fide Olympic torch relay, as third-graders circled the gym carrying the torch that local Olympian Jim "Moose" Barrows carried in the torch relay before the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.
"It means a lot to our kids to be able to carry that torch," Soda Creek Principal Judy Harris said. "But it's also kind of scary -- you hope they don't drop it."
Third-graders and fifth-graders performed the Olympic Celebration, coordinated by music teacher Amy Larson, gym teacher Chris Adams and art teacher Susanmarie Oddo.
Third-graders are taking part in a yearlong Olympic reading program, Harris said. They set goals reading goals in September and will receive medals -- bronze, silver or gold, of course -- at the end of the year.
This year's Olympics also are helping them with geography.
After the torch relay at Thursday's event, students performed an "art banners processional," parading hand-painted flags of countries around the world through the gym. As the Olympic theme music -- the majestic bugles and trumpets you hear on television -- played in the gymnasium, it felt like the Olympics were set to begin tomorrow.
Especially with several world-class athletes in attendance.
The afternoon rehearsal was attended by Barrows, an Alpine racer at the 1968 Olympics in Grenoble, France; 1994 downhill racer Craig Thrasher; 1998, 2002 and 2006 Nordic combined competitor Bill Demong; and Todd Lodwick, a Nordic combined Olympic competitor since 1994.
"Oohs" and "aahs" could be heard when Lodwick's name was announced.
"It's great to see the kids and let them know not only where you're going, but where they can go," Lodwick said after the event. "There's so much enthusiasm not only from the kids but from the whole town."
That enthusiasm was evident in the four songs sung by the young students and by the enduring, simple message shared with them by Barrows.
"Once you become an Olympian, you're always an Olympian," he said.
On Thursday at Soda Creek, students got a glimpse of just what that could mean, one day, for them.