John Paul II goes for gold

When the 2010 Winter Olympics begin next week, students from John Paul II Catholic School in Port Alberni will be watching with a different insight.

Students from John Paul II Catholic School in Port Alberni celebrate the sports of the 2010 Winter Olympics during the torch relay ceremonies at Bob Dailey Stadium, Nov. 1.

When the 2010 Winter Olympics begin next week, students from John Paul II Catholic School in Port Alberni will be watching with a different insight.

For the past two years, teacher Colleen Duncan has incorporated the values of the Olympic Games into her Grade 5 and 6 curriculum at John Paul II. She has invited past Olympians such as Alberni Valley wrestler Travis Cross and gold medal rower Adam Kreek to speak to her classes. She even had a representative from an Olympic committee from the Atlanta, Sydney and Salt Lake City games to speak in 2008.

She highlights many of Canada’s athletes in her lessons. “They’ve got great stories,” she says.

Using the Olympics as a building block for knowledge “lends itself to being the best that you can be. That means trying, never giving up, always striving to do your best,” she says.

“It’s also a time globally when everybody comes together. The differences aren’t highlighted; it’s sports and cultures, and striving for excellence. Often we get caught up in our own world and we don’t get past our backyard.”

Duncan’s enthusiasm for the Olympics peaked in February 2002 when she attended the opening ceremonies for the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. “It was just amazing and moving,” she says. “It was the first one after 9/11 too, so it was quite powerful.”

On Nov. 1, 17 of Duncan’s students performed a “Parade of Sports, Olympic and Paralympic” during the torch relay celebrations at Bob Dailey Stadium. “I’ve seen what it does to the kids. They get excited, motivated…at some level there’s a piece of it they can connect to. I think it’s really powerful.”

“I am proud to say that the ‘glowing hearts’ of John Paul II Catholic School are living proof of the positive power of the Games.”

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