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Students at Cottage Grove Elementary School were part of an athletic delegation representing Cambodia. They took part in a Winter Olympics opening ceremony Thursday at the school. (Bulletin photo by William Loeffler)

Games on: Cottage Grove students celebrate Winter Olympics

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Games on: Cottage Grove students celebrate Winter Olympics
Cottage Grove Minnesota 7584 80th Street South 55016

Cottage Grove Elementary School students held their own Olympic ceremony a day before the official opening of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.  


Over 600 students took part in the ceremony, which included a flag from the 1976 winter games. The flag was on loan from Cottage Grove resident Kip Sundgaard, who competed with the U.S. Ski Jump team in the 1976 Olympics.

Cottage Grove Mayor Myron Bailey held aloft an electric torch and declared the games officially open. He told students to remember that the Olympics was all about teamwork.

“Even though an athlete may be competing for their country, remember that they are all working together,” he said.

The ceremony began with the parade of nations, as groups of students marched into the gym waving flags from the country they represented. Some wore native costumes from Cambodia, China or Germany. Each group of students researched the country they represented and learned about the athletes from that country.

“It’s a wonderful educational opportunity for the kids,” said Gina Tester, who organized the event. A physical education specialist at Cottage Grove Elementary, Tester has organized Olympic ceremonies at District 833 elementary schools since 2002.

There was a color guard presentation, a performance by a student choir and short slideshow on the history of the games.

This week, the kids will be participating in mock winter Olympic sports, such as the luge, downhill skiing and speed skating with carpet squares. They will hold a closing ceremony Feb. 21.

William Loeffler
William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. 
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