RCMS students in full spirit for annual Winter Olympics

REED CITY — Lessons Reed City Middle School students learn this week are meant to last a lifetime.

For the last 17 years, students at the middle school have enjoyed their version of the Winter Olympics, taking a break from the books during the afternoon to have a little fun participating in several friendly competitions against each other, said Principal Dean McGuire.

"It's really all about school spirit," he said, following Thursday's dodgeball tournament. "The students learn about sportsmanship and teamwork, too."

McGuire said the Winter Olympics provide students and staff a little break from the long days between the winter break and spring break.

"It's a little relaxation for the students," he said. "This time of year can be really long. The state has so many standards that we have to follow, and it can be an every day thing."

The weather — be it warmer-than-usual temperatures, constant snowstorms or bitter cold — also can make the atmosphere less comfortable for the 358 middle-schoolers, McGuire said.

"It's been a nice week so far, and the Winter Olympics creates a little excitement for everyone," he said.

Randomly drawn family groups of around 45 students each come up with their own names and flags for the competition, McGuire. Each student on the team has to participate in at least one event.

This year's seven teams were the Construction Workers, the Pandas, S.S. Baker, JDI, the Neon Ninja Hippos, the Mac 'n' Cheez Monsters and the Dominating Doughnuts.

Concluding the week of events on Friday, each team had to negotiate an obstacle course as quickly as possible. Some classic facets of the course included a three-legged race and beanbag toss. However, students also had to guzzle Mountain Dew, bowl blindly on a scooter and find grapes in whipped cream pie. The Mac 'n' Cheez Monsters battled to an obstacle course win. However, RCMS staff continued their 17-year run at beating the students' times.

Lilly Dow's role for the obstacle course was the last portion, having to spread Vaseline on her face and have cotton balls stuck to it before screaming "I love Reed City Middle School."

"It's been a really fun week," Dow said of the festive spirit of the Winter Olympics. "We get to do something besides having to work all day in class. It is really long between our breaks and this is something fun."

Reed City Area Public Schools Superintendent Tim Webster began the tradition of the Winter Olympics when he was principal at the middle school.

"This is the time of year is when the MEAP used to take place," he said Friday afternoon. "It was a nice way for the classes to break up the MEAP. We would take a portion of the test and then have an activity.

"It has evolved over the years. It was a nice way to boost school spirit and teamwork, and it remains that way. That's what this whole week has been for the students."

Webster said the Winter Olympics also served a purpose for students to get to know each other.

"It is really the only thing the sixth-graders and eighth-graders get to do together," the superintendent said, adding the students spend the week planning and practicing for the Winter Olympics. "It makes it fun to be students at Reed City Middle School. It's a lot of work for the staff, but they have a lot of fun, too."

Sixth- and seventh-grade math teacher Jeremy DeVos said it's been a fun week for him.

"For the staff, it was an opportunity to get away from the being in front of the class teaching," he said. "It's been a chance to work on relationships with students as a teacher that you don't always get to do.

"The kids love it. They talk about it all the time."

With the stress for schools to focus on teaching students inside the classroom, DeVos said the Winter Olympics is a nice break.

"It is a total of five hours of not being in the classroom, but it's time well spent."

The Neon Ninja Hippos claimed the coveted Spirit Stick for the 2017 Winter Olympics.