Photo By: Ellie van Houtte/Town Crier
After years of watching their older siblings participate in the Los Altos School District Junior Olympics, local fourth-grade students finally have an opportunity to compete in the various events themselves.
The Junior Olympics is an annual event for the more than 1,400 fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders in the seven district elementary schools. The students compete in events ranging from the serious to the not so serious as families and friends cheer them on.
Students spend the six weeks leading up to the Junior Olympics practicing for the events. Training for the competition is a new experience for the fourth-graders.
“They are just so excited to try out the events,” said Pearl Garvin, district PE specialist. “They are beside themselves – they never want the PE sessions to end.”
At the beginning of the training, students sample all the Junior Olympics events, including relays, 75-yard dash, 60-yard hurdles, chin-ups, jump rope, softball throw, long jump and basketball free throw. For fourth-graders, the lessons are particularly special.
“They have been waiting for this and champing at the bit,” Garvin said. “It is a rite of passage.”
After trying all the events, students choose three to enter the day of the games. They can compete to qualify for the relay races in addition to their three events.
“I like the Junior Olympics so much because it is friendly competition,” Garvin said. “The PE teachers stress that all the kids are going for their personal bests. It’s a nice way for them to go out and meet kids from other schools and make friends. It is also great for school spirit.”
This year, assisted by donations from the Los Altos Educational Foundation, PE specialists received additional funding that enabled an increase in physical education opportunities for first- through third-graders.
“Physical education is important because it teaches things such as teamwork, cooperation, respect for others and healthful fitness habits,” Garvin said. “We are trying to teach them that fitness habits they start now will help them stay healthy later in life.”
She added that PE is a time for the students to have fun.
“What we want them to get from our lesson is that when you are moving around, you are having fun,” Garvin said. “Physical activity shouldn’t be a chore and it contributes to your health.”
Garvin said the event would not be possible each year if it were not for the many hours parents volunteer to make the event a success.
“The parents are very organized and put so much time in this event,” she said. “It takes a very dedicated group of parents to keep this going. Without the parents, this would absolutely not happen.”
This year’s 53rd annual Junior Olympics is scheduled 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 27 at Mountain View High School, 3535 Truman Ave.
For more information, visit www.lasdschools.org/District/Portal/Junior-Olympics.
Are you a local Olympian?
Parents helping to organize this year’s Junior Olympics plan to honor Olympians from the 2012 Summer Games in London.
They would like to include any local Olympians during the opening ceremonies of the Junior Olympics.