Bennett Elementary students cheered louder than the Olympic Game anthem that roared on two speakers as each class walked past holding up their country’s respective flag.
One class chanted, “Jamaica! Jamaica!”
Another classed simultaneously yelled, “China! China!”
On Monday, Bennett Elementary School hosted the opening ceremonies for its first Summer Olympics Field Day that will be held this Thursday, June 19. More than 360 student “athletes,” who represented 17 countries, paraded past the school playground class by class and took their seats on a hill.
“The dreams that I had of being in the Olympics started here at Bennett Elementary,” former Bennett alumni Brad Barquist told the students.
Barquist participated in the 1996 Olympic Games on the United States track team. He talked to students about the importance of setting goals and writing them down.
Also at the event was Peter Newton, who competed in the ‘92, ‘96 and 2000 Olympics in kayaking.
After the athletes spoke and a third-grade teacher sung The Star Spangled Banner, four students stood for the ceremonial torch lighting. Fifth graders Gabe Newman and Jessica Mantchev held up a torch made of orange tissue paper and fourth graders Neftali Kirkland and Tulsi Chudgar held another torch.
Each pair ran in opposite directions around the playground and met back in front of the crowd to “light” the torches.
Then Herb Cartmell of Woodinville released 30 homing pigeons. Students looked up and cheered as the pigeons flocked and flew off.
Bennett gym teacher Wendy Schol, who came to the school last year from Kent where she was known for her innovative ideas, set up the event because she wanted students to see athletes who had achieved their goals.
She also wanted the school to be able to do something together, before they go off to the 30 stations that will be set up at this Thursday’s field-day event.
“They never have a chance to do something as a school effort and this is the perfect thing,” Schol said. “So let the games begin.”
Carrie Wood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-453-4290.