Olympian Brad Barquist joined students and some parent-athletes for a Summer Olympics kick-off ceremony Wednesday at the place where Barquist’s sports dreams began: .
During the ceremony, parent-athletes who also competed at the national level shared their words of inspiration with the youngsters.
“My dreams of competing in the Olympics started right here, literally on this playground,” said Barquist, a member of the 1996 U.S. Olympic track team. Barquist competed in the 10,000-meter race.
“Ultimately, it’s about chasing your dreams,” said Kelly Weadock, the parent of two Bennett students as well as a championship soccer player. “One day the thrill of victory will certainly catch up with you.” Weadock played soccer in high school and at Duke University, where his team won at nationals. He also won a gold medal in the 1987 U.S. Olympic Festival and went on to play soccer professionally with the Greensboro Dynamo.
Parent Anna Fowler, who also attended, was the coxswain for the University of Washington’s men’s rowing team when they won a Pac-10 championship, and in 1992, she competed in the Master’s World Championship in Germany, where her team won five gold medals.
Wendy Shol, the physical education teacher responsible for organizing the event, talked about helping the students feel more personally connected to the Olympics once they start in July.
“Bringing in our parents … kids can see that there’s people who accomplished their dreams amongst us,” said Shol.
The school has held similar events “for the past 20 years, on Olympic year,” she said, and every time it gets bigger.
Twenty-two countries are being represented by the different classes, said Principal Nicole Hepworth. During Wednesday’s ceremony, Greece led the opening march around the school’s field.
Four fifth-grade students also passed a ceremonial torch to a group of fourth-graders, representing the passing from old to new, and a box of 30 racer doves was released to kick off the opening of the games.
Every year, students at Bennett celebrate their field day to commemorate the end of the school year with a different theme. Last year they celebrated going green, and this year it’s the Summer Olympics, said Hepworth.
At the school’s field day next Tuesday, students will participate at 32 different stations representing the different Olympic sports, including a 50-meter race, a baseball game and nerf archery.