24th Annual 6th Grade Olympics at CMS Prove “Character Counts” as Much as Athleticism (video)

6th grade olympics
Let the games begin!

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.” – The Olympic Creed

On Thursday, May 11, 2017 Coronado Middle School’s 24th Annual 6th Grade Olympics were held. CMS physical education teacher Bonnie McCann, as she’s done now for over a decade, once again organized this special event in which 6th grade homerooms compete against one another in a multitude of athletic events.

Bonnie McCann
PE teacher Bonnie McCann

Ms. McCann loves this yearly event, and is proud of how far it has come in the thirteen years since she was passed the baton of keeping this sixth grade rite of passage going strong. She reflects, “This used to just be a track and field meet on a dirt track.” As she surveys Niedermeyer Field with an air of awe and pride, she comments, “We’ve now included swimming and water polo at Brian Bent Memorial Aquatics Complex (BBMAC), and host the track and field events on this beautiful track. It’s become so much more than just a field event.”


6th grade olympics

While the facility improvements have certainly been welcomed by Ms. McCann, it is another important addition to the 6th Grade Olympics that she considers to be the biggest game changer. “Our Character Counts program has been infused into the Olympics,” she says, concluding, “and I’m really happy with it.”

Pillars of Character shirts
Each homeroom wore its own color shirt representing one of the pillars of character.

The Character Counts program focuses on what they refer to as the “Pillars of Character”: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Courage, Caring, and Citizenship. Each of the pillars of character are represented by a different color, and each homeroom, assigned to one of the specific pillars of character, wore matching T-shirts with the character trait they were representing on their backs. One homeroom wore white shirts with the word “Pillars” across their backs.

6th Grade Olympics torch
The opening ceremony of CMS’s 6th Grade Olympics includes the lighting of the torch (tiki torch).
The city-homeroom of Athens represented all seven pillars of character, emphasizing that the 6th Grade Olympics were focused just as much on character as they were the athletic events.

The 6th Grade Olympics’ opening ceremony began with an energetic march around the track. Just like the real Olympics, where a torch is carried, the first homeroom to make its way around the track held torches too. Students walked with their homerooms, and the excitement in the air was palpable as they waved signs and cheered. Besides representing one of the pillars of character, each homeroom also represented one of the city-states of ancient Greece, where the Olympics originated. It was brilliant how history was weaved into CMS’s 6th Grade Olympics because as students prepared for the annual event, they researched the ancient cities of Athens, Troy, Sparta, Ithaca, Olympia, Argos, and Corinth. Some students even donned what were supposed to resemble the wreaths that the ancient Greeks wore on their heads.

The city-state homeroom of Troy’s sign

Although the homeroom representing the city-state of Troy was a little bit behind schedule as they entered the stadium, they joined the march around the track in style as some of their teammates rode in a golf cart decorated in their signature purple citizenship color. Some parts of the ceremony were definitely in keeping with the original Olympics while others were definitely in keeping with modern times! The city-state homeroom of Troy, just like all the other sixth grade homerooms, also carried a sign with them which brought the Character Counts aspect of the day into play.

The homeroom city-state Troy arrived to the opening ceremony in style!

On hand to cheer the students on were Coronado Unified School District (CUSD) Superintendent Karl Mueller, School Board President Maria Simon, School Board Member Lou Smith, and CMS Principal Karin Mellina. Additionally, the sixth graders’ former elementary school principals, Whitney DeSantis of Village Elementary and Tammy Marble of Silver Strand Elementary, were there to witness how this sixth grade class has bonded together so well with one another this school year.

Karin Mellina, Karl Mueller
Principal Karin Mellina and Superintendent Karl Mueller

Of the 6th Grade Olympics, Superintendent Mueller commented, “The 6th Grade Olympics is obviously a very healthy, friendly competition, but it’s also an opportunity for our students to connect with one another outside of the traditional classroom environment. I’m thrilled that Ms. McCann has continued this tradition.” Principal Mellina said, “It’s exciting for the students to be able to have the opportunity to be a part of this tradition. It’s about teamwork, cheering each other on, and being a person of good character, which is why we base it all around the character traits.”

6th Grade Olympics trophy
The coveted trophy
Some students wore wreaths on their heads like the ancient Greeks did.

After the march around the track, the opening ceremony began with the singing of the National Anthem by a student named Grace. Then two students, Alexis and Marianna, recited the Olympic creed, motto, and oath. Superintendent Mueller thanked those parents in attendance for their commitment to come out and support their children, and then spoke to the athletes, telling them, “Today, remember it’s not about winning or losing; it’s about competing with integrity and class, supporting one another, supporting your teammates, and cheering on this great tradition at Coronado Middle School.”

A student from the city-state homeroom of Corinth holds up his homeroom’s sign

As the opening ceremony continued, Ms. McCann called up a few students from each homeroom to not only introduce the city-state their homerooms represented, but to share their homerooms’ mission statements regarding character. Some of the homerooms’ tweaked the lyrics to well-known songs to spread word of their mission. One group sang about the character pillar respect to the tune of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” while another homeroom cleverly sang about trustworthiness to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies“. Ms. Miller’s homeroom, who represented the city-state Olympia, even created their own rap about fairness. What a brilliant (and fun) way to make kids excited about the pillars of character! As they read their mission statement, the homeroom that represented Troy as well as the character trait of citizenship, said, “Win or lose, we believe the greatest achievement of any team today is to work together as citizens of a city-state. Let the games begin!”

Once the opening ceremonies were complete, the actual competition began, starting with the track and field events. Principal Mellina explained, “Everyone gets to compete in at least one event.” Throughout the day long Olympics, those students interested in competing in more than one event could participate in up to three events total.”

6th Grade Olympics

As he prepared for his 100-meter sprint, a sixth grader named Gunner said, “I think it’s really cool that we’re doing a mini-Olympics. I think it’s going to introduce a lot of kids to sports they haven’t really been exposed to yet. Maybe they’ll become more interested in track after today. It’s great that we can have a friendly competition without anyone feeling the need to be super overly-competitive the way sports are sometimes.”

6th Grade Olympics
Sixth grade student Gunner running the 100-meter sprint

Another sixth grader named Valentine, who had just completed her first event of the day, commented, “I was really nervous before the race because there are lots of people watching all the activities today, but it was great. All of us have worked really hard for the last few months to study all these different sports everyone is competing in today. It’s been so fun learning about all the events and the history behind them. Now that the Olympics are finally here, it’s even more fun than I imagined!”

One of the boys’ track and field events

As she looked around at the middle school students in the midst what was surely one of the best days of the school year so far, School Board President Maria Simon said, “The 6th Grade Olympics is one of the signature events in our district, and all credit goes to our sixth grade P.E. teacher Bonnie McCann. All three of my children have experienced the 6th Grade Olympics, and it’s something that stands out in our school memories!” School Board Member Lou Smith echoed Ms. Simon’s sentiment, sharing, “We want to give the kids memorable moments when they’re in middle school, and this is a very memorable moment.”

Parent volunteers were on hand to help throughout the day, including timing the individual runners in each lane.

Of course, the day would not be possible without all the parent volunteers, who not only helped plan the Olympics, but also were on hand to make sure the day ran smoothly. Equipped with stopwatches and other pieces of equipment, each volunteer was put to work as he or she ensured the day was a success. Parent volunteer Chauncey Cannon shared, “I’m excited to be here today! I love being able to be involved in the activities that our kids get to experience.” Another parent volunteer, Jen Reiter, said, “I love the healthy competition and community spirit. I’m here today to support everybody and just be where they need me to be. This is a wonderful event!”

Also on hand to help with the Olympics were members of CMS’s Associated Study Body (ASB). Coronado Middle School’s Daily Broadcast Television Station, KCMS, was also there to record the events of the day.

KCMS at 6th Grade Olympics
KCMS students

By the end of the day, the athletes, exhausted as they were, felt a renewed sense of spirit after competing in the 6th Grade Olympics. Even though Ms. Miller’s math class may have taken home the coveted trophy, it was evident that all the sixth graders went home as winners that day!

6th Grade Olympics winners
The team that represented the character pillar of fairness won the 6th Grade Olympics. Congratulations to the city-state homeroom, Olympia! (Photo courtesy of Karin Mellina)

Additional Information:

2017 General Olympic Schedule – Thursday, May 11th, 2017

Morning Event Outline

8:00 – 8:10 – Homeroom business, line up on track
8:15 – 8:45 – Opening March & Ceremonies
8:45 – 9:00 – Transition to Track & Field Events
9:00-10:30 – Track & Field Events
10:30-10:40 – Prepare for Track & Field Award Ceremony
10:40 – 11:16 – Track & Field Award Ceremony (center field)

Morning Schedule of Events (Track Running Events) 8:40-10:30am

9:00-9:15 – 80 Meter Hurdles (G/B order)
9:15- 9:25 – ½ Marathon (2 laps) (G/B run together)
9:25- 9:40 – 100 Meter Dash (1/4 lap) (G/B order)
9:40-9:50 – 200 Meter Dash (1/2 lap) (G/B order)
9:50-9:55 –   400 Meter Dash (1 lap) (G/B order)
9:55-10:05 – Marathon (4 laps) (G/B run together)
10:05 -10:30- 4×100 Yard Relay (G/B order)      

Morning Schedule of Field Events – 9:00 – 10:30am

(All Field Events are ongoing for 1 hour and 30 minutes & occur at the same time)

Shot Put – Running Long Jump – High Jump – Hammer Throw – Softball Throw

Afternoon Event Outline – 12:05- 3:00pm

12:05 – 12:10 – Students reconvene – pool bleachers w/HR Teacher & Parents
12:10 – 12:20 – Transition to Swimming, H2O Polo, and remaining Field Events
12:20 – 2:05 – Swimming, H2O Polo, and remaining Field Events
2:05 – 2:15 – Prepare for Swimming, H2O Polo, and Field Event Award Ceremony
2:15 – 2:50 – Swimming, H2O Polo, and Field Event Award Ceremony
2:50 – 3:00 – Closing Ceremony (Award Trophy)
3:00 – 3:30 – Clean-up

Afternoon Schedule of Events (Swim) 12:20-2:00pm

12:20 – 12:25 – 50 yd. Freestyle (G/B order)
12:25 – 12:30 – 50 yd. Backstroke (G/B order)
12:30 – 12:35 – 50 yd. Butterfly (G/B order)
12:35 – 12:40 – 50 yd. Breaststroke (G/B order)
12:40 – 12:45 – 100 yd.  Individual Medley (G/B order)
2:45 – 12:55 – 200 yd. Freestyle Relay (G/B order)
12:55 – 2:05 – 200 yd. Medley Relay (G/B order)              

Afternoon Schedule for H2O Polo & Field Events – 12:20-2:05pm

(All events are ongoing for 1 hour & 45 minutes)

H20 Polo Matches – match style based on # of teams
Obstacle Course, Javelin Throw, Discus Throw, Frisbee Throw

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Coree Cornelius
Resident, Educator, Military Spouse, and Mother."I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list." - Susan Sontag.Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: manager@coronadotimes.com