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Olympic ceremonies open 'new P.E.'


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September 20, 2012
The 2012 London Olympics may have ended in August, but a quartet of Grosse Pointe Public School System physical education teachers are carrying on the summer tradition in their gym classes, opening the new school year with an Olympic-themed ceremony.

Nicol Brumme, Deb Raab, Gail Frederick and Cheryl Gawel, of Ferry, Mason, Monteith and Poupard elementary schools, respectively, met in August to discuss possible activities for the year. All agreed, 2012 being an Olympic year, to somehow relate the event to their classes.

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Peter Hoffman, Ferry Elementary School 2/3 magnet student, tosses a Frisbee during the discus event. photo by Renee Landuyt.
Gawel and Raab also split time at Defer Elementary School.

"Us four, we're a team, and we always plan together and come up with great activities for the kids," Brumme said. "And this is one, we sat down in August and said, 'Let's bring out the Olympics. It's an Olympic year, how can we relate it?'"

The team created a system of games and supplemental materials to mirror the Olympic opening ceremonies. They had a flag and five Olympic torches, designed by Gawel, that students carried into class. They constructed a set of five rings similar to the blue, yellow, black, green and red interlocking rings found on the Olympic flag. But instead of the colors symbolizing those of all the national flags of countries competing in the Olympic games, the rings stood for teacher expectations — respect, responsibility, safe, ready to learn and fun — for phys ed.

And the game — each one resembled an Olympic game. Five teams of students participated in a torch relay, Frisbee throw, hurdle run, swimming and a team cooperative using a hula hoop. At Ferry, between each game, Brumme discussed the five rings, describing what each meant in terms of class expectations.

"What we do is, we play a game, talk about this. Play a game, talk about this. Play a game, talk about this," Brumme said. "And it just flows so nicely."

The Olympic theme and events represent a shift in phys ed philosophy within the last decade, from a typical, sports-related class to a more cooperative learning and sportsmanship-based one.

"We now pull in the medium kids, not just the athletes," Brumme said. "Because we know the athletes get it everywhere. They join the sports, they're already athletic, they're doing it. We want to pull in the kids that aren't. So, no more dodge ball. This ain't dodge ball anymore."

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