Students and staff at Accrington Academy have kicked off Sports Week with their very own ‘opening ceremony’ to celebrate United Learning’s Spirit of Rio festival.
The cultural and sporting festival is being celebrated across United Learning’s schools with a range of activities from torch relays to samba workshops to carnival-style events like Accrington Academy’s. The school is one of only five to successfully apply for and receive £1,000 from the Group to carry out their grand plans.
Students from across the academy, ranging from Year 7 to Year 13, took part in the day’s activities, which began with creating carnival costumes and flags for all the different world countries as well as rehearsing for the day’s performances.
Then, the extravagant opening ceremony set off with a samba performance bringing together Accrington Academy’s musicians and dancers. As Rachael Kirkwood, Dance Subject Lead, explained:
“We created a dance that was eight simple beats that could be performed alongside the samba band. We only had an hour to create a carnival routine and put our own interpretation of a carnival dance into the piece. The students only had an hour to learn it, a few rehearsals with the band and then performed it in front of the school.”
Students were also joined at the event by Team GB middle-distance athlete Leah Barrow, who is currently training for 800m track events for Rio 2016, and heard from her about competing on an international scale and persevering through training.
In the afternoon, Year 10 students tried out a range of sports activities including bubble football and fencing, whilst Years 7-9 students were tasked with researching different countries taking part in the Olympic and Paralympic Games. They also acted as the International Olympic Committee and carried out a debate to decide whether to go ahead or cancel the Games using factual articles about current events in Brazil as their evidence base.
In the lead up to the school’s Spirit of Rio event, Accrington Academy students have been exploring the Olympic and Paralympic values each morning in tutor time. They have created resources including videos, presentations and posters to show their understanding of the importance of respect, friendship and equality.
The festival is also a chance to celebrate the sporting success of one of Accrington Academy’s own students – Ethan – who has been selected to join the England Para-swimming Spotlight Programme for 2016 and who hopes one day to be competing at the Paralympic Games.
Lisa Clarke, Head of Music and the event organiser, said:
“It takes a great amount of team work and energy to make a day like today a success. Students were engaged and excited to get involved in the opening ceremony and showed each other a great deal of respect. They were incredibly proud of the parade materials that they made and found learning about different countries really interesting!”
Teacher Ruth Taylor said:
“I've never seen my form more engaged and enjoying working as a team. Class day!”
Year 10 student Rebecca acted as photographer for the event:
“There have been so many activities as part of the festival: bubble football, rounders, water walkers, samba band, cricket, fencing – which we have never done in the school before – rugby and we have had Leah Barrow here to coach track running.
“Events like this give everyone a break from a normal school day, especially for me with exams and coursework. It has been really good to take part in today, in all the photographs I’ve taken today everyone is smiling, laughing and having fun. I think it is really important that we can be part of events like this.
“I will take away the Olympic value of motivation today. In the past I haven’t been as motivated and confident, but, hearing Leah Barrow speak today, it seems like everyone could do with a bit of the motivation she has.”
Kiera, a student in Year 9, said of the day:
“For Spirit of Rio I performed in the samba band and we have been learning about each country taking part in the Olympics. I haven’t had the chance to perform in front of the school before. From this experience I will take away the Olympic values of confidence and determination as I needed confidence to perform in front of the school and determination to get the piece just right and play continuously during the opening ceremony.”
Another performer, Year 7 student Carla, said:
“Me and my friend Madison sang in front of the whole school, and it was really fun because we don’t get the chance to do a duet and harmonise together that often. It was scary beforehand but once I got into the song it was fun and I felt more confident afterwards.”