Local elementary students shine at sports day
Jul 25, 2017 05:05PM ● Published by Julie Slama
South Jordan Elementary fifth-grader Savannah Martinez sprints to win the 50-yard dash during Jordan School District’s Sports Day. (Julie Slama/City Journals)
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South Jordan Elementary sixth-grader Paul Kolo loves to run, so he practiced both sprints and distance running during his physical education class at school in preparation for Jordan School District’s annual Sports Day.
Paul had been looking forward to meeting his goals.
“I want to run faster than I did last year,” he said before the competition day.
Fifth-grader Savannah Martinez, who also likes the 50-yard dash, said she has run in her neighborhood or while playing basketball and softball with friends.
“I’m excited to have my mom and older sister there watching me run,” she said.
Paul and Savannah were among the student-athletes from 12 schools who paraded in their school shirts around the track at Herriman High School while carrying banners, waving their hands to teachers, principals, school district officials and families who came to support these students with differing levels of ability during Sports Day.
Sports Day is an opportunity for Jordan School District students of all abilities — those who have autism, Down syndrome, learning disabilities, language disabilities, intellectual disabilities, those physically challenged with walkers and wheelchairs and other multiple disabilities — to come together to race in a 50-meter dash, long jump, softball throw and cross country distance run.
“Sports Day is the most amazing event,” said South Jordan Assistant Principal Tiffany Cooke, who was part of it for the first time. “The opportunity for these kids to compete and feel the successes of their peers that they may not typically have is overwhelming. They get the support from their peers at the school when they clap for them as they leave and tell them they already are winners. This gives them so much confidence.”
Matched in small groups with other students of similar abilities, students are challenged within their own level during the competition.
Paul started the day with the cross country 1-mile run where he ran among the leaders and finished with a top participant button. He then ran the 50-meter dash to get a second-place ribbon.
“The other guy was so fast — he was just ahead of me,” Paul said after the race. “I’m hoping I’ll do well in the jump and throw.”
He rounded out his competition with second place in long jump and third in the softball throw.
Meanwhile, classmate Savannah dashed into lead to win her 50-meter dash.
“I did what my sister said: ‘Don’t look; just run and run as fast as you can,’” she said.
Savannah also placed second in the long jump and received honorable mention in the softball throw.
Monte Vista student Ayden Hill is an athlete who loves to play soccer and baseball, so he was ready to compete in all the events.
“I framed the ribbons I got last year,” he said before he competed. “I’ve had my team shirt ready.”
Elk Meadows student Greyson Holbrook was hoping to collect a bunch of ribbons at Sports Day.
“I’ve been practicing running around the gym,” he said. “Racing is my favorite thing.”
His mother, Christie Flower, said her son is athletic and competitive.
“It’s a fun opportunity for him and other students to get out and do something together from their usual routines,” she said. “The PE teachers help these kids prepare so on the day, they feel successful and supported.”
Elk Meadows Principal Aaron Ichimura Sports Day isn’t just about competing but about friendships and displaying good sportsmanship so students know how to congratulate one another and know how to demonstrate good behavior.
“We want good sportsmanship from all our students, and for me, this is one of my favorite highlights of the year, when I see it in action,” he said. “Our school supports these students as they walk from their classroom to the bus with the ‘Rocky’ theme song playing. Everyone lines the hallways, clapping and cheering them on. We have staff and parents here supporting them. It’s just fun to watch them do their best. It’s their day.”