Evergreen High School’s athletes competed last Wednesday in the first-ever Departmental Olympics, a two-hour showing of the capabilities, drive and team spirit of EHS’s finest — its teachers.
As part of the teachers’ welcome back to school, principal Matt Walsh had them compete in two of what he called Olympic events — departmental synchronized swimming and departmental rowing. Both competitions were in the school’s main hallway, and no water was involved.
Both sports were team efforts, with team members formed from each academic department. While the teachers had a lot of fun and were quite competitive, it also got them into the spirit of a new school year.
“We made the rules really vague,” Walsh said, “to get the teachers to talk to each other and work out their strategies.”
“Every experience provides an opportunity to learn,” Walsh added.
The winning teams received medals made from canning-jar lids with ribbons. To make the awards ceremony part of the learning experience, on the back of the medals was information about last year’s school accomplishments.
The teachers read the accomplishments as they stood on the pedestal to receive their medals.
Spoiler alert: The gold went to electives teachers with a time of 12.7 seconds, silver to social studies with a time of 13.3 seconds, and bronze to the administration with a time of 15.8 seconds.
For the rowing event, five teachers were on rolling desk chairs. The rules stated that they must hang onto each other, and all five chairs had to cross the finish line. It wasn’t as easy as it sounded.
They moved in straight lines down the high school’s main hall, with teachers cheering their colleagues on.
A couple of teachers fell off the chairs during the races. Others couldn’t hold on.
Science teacher Ali Meyers lost her grip on the chair ahead of her, and the science team lost with a time of 16.8 seconds.
“I tell you what,” Meyers said of her performance, “being a biology teacher, I didn’t realize the physics of my chair shooting off to the side. I’ll stick with teaching biology.”
Physical education teacher Mike Sellers attributed the electives team’s success to teamwork.
“We worked together here as we do all year,” he said.
Spoiler alert: The social studies team won gold with a score of 20 points out of a possible 25. There was a tie for the silver medal with 19.5 points: math and electives. Taking the bronze was world languages with a score of 18.
The synchronized swim competition took place on gymnastics mats behind tables so teachers could be seen from the waist up when they were standing, or they could try some “underwater” maneuvers by lying on the mats with their feet in the air.
The 60-second performances were done to the Olympics theme song, and the teams of five were judged by school administrators on synchronicity, synchronization to the music, degree of difficulty, execution and creativity.
Some teams used props such as artificial flowers and paper nose plugs. Others used their smiles to try to gain favor with the judges. This was serious competition.
The winning social studies team built a human pyramid and used a kick line to gain some extra points from the judges.
An Olympic idea
Walsh didn’t take credit for thinking up the Olympics sporting event idea. It came via math teacher Melissa Berninzoni, whose husband is a principal at a Lakewood charter school. Her husband decided to try a couple of Olympic activities, and once Walsh heard the idea, he had to try it.
A few days before the teachers’ first day at school, the administration tried the synchronized swimming and rowing events to determine whether they would work. They also considered balance beam but decided that would be a difficult team event.
During the staff meeting held between Olympic events, Walsh told the faculty: “I know how hard you work, but it’s also important to have fun, and I wanted everyone to take the time to enjoy themselves and celebrate the accomplishments of last year.”