Students compete in mini-Olympics

Published 10:23 pm Monday, June 13, 2011

Kayla Mercer, a fifth-grader at Elephant’s Fork Elementary School, tosses a beanbag during the Suffolk Citywide Mini-Olympics on Monday. The first-ever event allowed students from each elementary school to show off their athletic talents.

Suffolk elementary students ran, jumped, threw and hit at Mack Benn Jr. Elementary School on Monday during their first Mini-Olympics.

Five boys and five girls from each elementary school participated in the events, which included cornhole, a basketball shootout and tug of war. Medals and trophies, including a sportsmanship award, were given at the end.

“We want to spotlight those athletes that are doing extremely well,” said Richard Linyear Jr., a physical education teacher at Mack Benn Jr. who had the idea for the program.

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Linyear wanted to do the program because the most exceptional art and music students have places to showcase their talent, but there is nothing similar for the best physical education students.

Bria Miller, an Oakland Elementary School fourth-grader, knocks one out of the park during the homerun derby at the Suffolk Citywide Mini-Olympics.

When Tara Worley was hired as the school system’s wellness coach in January, Linyear took his idea to her to make it reality.

“An idea is only as good as the people who back it,” Linyear said. “It’s about the cooperation.”

The five boys and five girls in each school who had performed the best on their Fitness Gram tests, which measure flexibility, agility and other physical fitness factors, were chosen to compete in the Mini-Olympics.

Parents and grandparents came to watch their children compete. High school seniors volunteered as judges and scorekeepers.

“I like sports a lot,” said Bria Miller, an Oakland Elementary School fourth-grader who participated in the baseball home run derby and the basketball shootout.

Basketball is her favorite sport, she said.

For Tyhi Elliott, the favorite is football. There was no football event, but he got to toss beanbags instead.

“We might not have went outside today at school, because it’s so hot,” he said, explaining why he was excited to participate in the event.

Worley and Linyear said they discovered some kinks that need to be worked out before next year’s event.

“This is definitely a learning experience,” Worley said. “But the kids are having a great time, and everybody’s smiling.”

Lipton funded the entire project, even purchasing the gold, silver and bronze medals and trophies. Chick-fil-A provided lunch for the competitors.

“It’s all about the kids,” Linyear said. “It’s all about them having a memory.”