Olympics helps give students lessons in geography, culture | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Olympics helps give students lessons in geography, culture

During the first event of hat making, Dan Kixmiller strode the rows between cafeteria tables offering words of encouragement to Kingsbury Middle School students.

“Did you guys read about your country?” Kixmiller said. “So you know why you’re making the hats the way they are … So the more you can find out the better.”

It was Friday, the first day of a Winter Olympics curriculum for February that kicked off with the hat competition but will involve a variety of tasks that read like a “Jeopardy!” board: marshmallow and noodle towers, computer capers, electromagnetics, bowling and snowball targets.

In addition, points are given to teams when books are read.

“We wanted to have all the kids have something to contribute,” counselor Carly Strauss said.

Students were divided into 16 teams representing a country picked from a hat. An equal number of boys and girls of different grade levels are in the 10-student teams.

“No best friends on teams and no enemies on teams,” Strauss said.

As the games began, sixth-grader Jenna Fragola was busy putting a maple leaf on her Canadian hat because, in Canada, there are “lots of maple trees.”

She had a different reason for pasting a cotton ball on her hat.

“I think it’s cool,” she said.

Students were given colored paper, scissors, cotton balls, pens and other items to make their hats reflect the country they represented.

“It’s like (the television show) ‘Survivor,’ ” Strauss said. “You have to get by with what you’ve got.”

Seventh-grader T.J. Kolesnik’s South Korea hat held a picture noting record snowfall occurred in March 2004 and appeared papal.

“I know. I look like the pope,” he said.

As the creations were finished, teams paraded in front of other “countries” and stood in front of four adult judges while a student spoke through a microphone on the hats’ designs.

In the spirit of the games, good nature saturated the event and students clapped for each other.

Principal Dan Wold has seen the spirit of the curriculum sweep through the school.

“To me anything you can do to involve a little competition and school spirit gets you going,” Wold said. “This is the stuff memories are made of.”

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