Stafford Intermediate School’s Olympics Bring Students Together for Fun and Games

Nov 28, 2018
Photo by: David Biggy Team Green competes in the tug-o-war in the last event of the first Stafford Intermediate Olympics Games on Nov. 26.

As Fox Costello blazed a path across the asphalt and broke the tape at the finish line, Stafford Intermediate School sixth-grader Kaycee Callanan offered a wide smile, no doubt appreciating what she had just witnessed.

“I love seeing the special education students getting involved and doing their best,” said the 12-year-old volunteer, courtesy of the school’s Students Offering Solutions (SOS) group. “Even if they didn’t win, they were happy. Even if they lost, they still had smiles on their faces.”

Hugs, high-fives and happiness – that basically summed up the first Stafford Olympic Games. A little bit of competition among friends didn’t hurt, either, and, all in all, it wasn’t a bad way to celebrate the completion of the new track on a brisk November morning.

“It was a good way to bring students together on our new track,” Supervisor of Special Services Hope Scherlin said following the inaugural event on Nov. 26. “We had great student support from our SOS program. We had some parents and teachers out here to cheer on our boys and girls. It was just what we wanted for the first time trying this.”

With nearly 30 students comprising four color-coordinated squads, the students competed in six different events – a four-runner relay, 25-yard dash, softball toss, long jump, scooter race and tug-o-war – scoring three points for the victory, two for second place and one for third.

“I think our superintendent came up with the idea, and we just ran with it,” said Intermediate physical education teacher Kathy Redling, referring to George Chidiac, who just happens to be a former track and field coach. “This was the first time we tried this, so there was a lot of trial and error involved. I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was all new to us.”

As competitors accomplished their tasks on the track and in the field, SOS students helped direct their friends and assisted Redling with timing and reporting results. Of course, they provided plenty of encouragement and a pat on the shoulder along the way.

“We’re always interested in helping others in our school,” Callanan said. “For most of us, this is about helping other students and making new friends. We really enjoy getting to be a part of things like this.”

Once the tug-o-war was decided and the points tallied, Team Blue was declared the winner with 15 points. The team consisted of Lyra Dellinger, Irene Gutierrez, Jovani Campos-Jimenez, Zane Corio, Bryan Matheis, Gavin Notte and Jesse Samaritano.

The second-place Red team, made up of Gabe Horner, Nick Kearney, Costello, Danielle Samaritano, Mia Pirie, Litzy Lopez-Bonilla and Derek Hub, finished second with 11 points, followed by Team Yellow with eight points and Team Green with four points.

The Yellow team’s crew included Wyatt Ullman, Tristan Fletcher, Louis Mascitelli, Ali Maradiaga, Angel Morales, Olivia Lees and Emma Ghigliotty. The Green squad featured Braden Jarvis, Eli Beam, Brooke Davis, Siena McBee, Justin Vitucci, Vianna Placakis, Dominic Mascitelli and Brady Greenblatt.

“They all had so much fun,” Scherlin said. “It really was a fantastic time for all of them, and it even showcased some of their talents.”

Redling believes the event will continue for years to come, and said the possibilities of expanding it to include all the district’s schools is a good one.

“We wanted to take elements of the Olympics and adapt it for our special education students,” she said. “It all came together really well. Even the kids who you’d think weren’t going to do much did a lot. It was special for a lot of them, just to be a part of something like this and enjoy it so much.”

Advised by Eric Miller, the SOS volunteers also included Samantha Reilly, Cole Edgar, Hunter Kreybig, Lily Plesniarski, Madison Groschel-Klein, Evan Wyrsch, Emily Evans, Justin Silva, Brielle Simon, Leah Silva, Francesca Fields, Kira Kelly and Brenna Seubert.

— David Biggy

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