Run for Spirit

Run for Spirit

Torch Bearers Help Students Honor Olympic Spirit

Olympic torch bearer Hugh Brockway had another use for his blue and white running suit and torch.

Brockway, a Lovettsville Elementary School physical education teacher, and a second torch bearer on Friday paraded through the Sterling Middle School auditorium to lead off the school's 2002 Opening Ceremonies and Celebration of International Spirit event. Students participated in three separate assemblies for each grade level, demonstrating gamesmanship, sportsmanship and internationalism.

The opening ceremonies for the Olympics followed later that night, concluding the 13,000-mile Olympic Relay. Brockway had a small part in the torch run, carrying the torch two-tenths of a mile on Dec. 21, helping pass the flame to Salt Lake City, Utah.

Brockway said he wanted to spread the Olympic spirit and inspire students to be involved in sports. "This brings it all together for me," he said.

Brockway and Kent Jimenez, who works at 7-11 in Alexandria, made their visit Friday to culminate a school project developed by Matt Oblas, a physical education teacher at Sterling Middle School. Oblas and six other physical education teachers compiled the miles students ran, competing to see which of their classes could reach 2,000 miles first, the distance from Sterling to Salt Lake City. The classes, which all reached the goal, sent 125 letters to mayors of the major cities and towns along the way. They received return mail from 75 percent of the mayors' offices that included letters and souvenirs.

Oblas wanted to celebrate the Run for the Rings and helped organize the assembly, which celebrated internationalism and multi-culturalism as well with international dances and singing.

"Each student had ownership of it," Oblas said. "It was an entire student body thing our school celebrated together."