[ HAWAII'S SCHOOLS ]
Olympics unites school in celebration of sportsmanship
"Let the games begin!"
With these words, Hawaii Preparatory Academy student body President Philip Aiona announced the start of the 28th Annual HPA Olympics. This mid-spring event pits class against class in four days of fun and friendly competition. At stake: the honor of becoming the 2006 Olympic Champions.
The games started in 1978, when a psychology class and its teacher, Zeke Knight, were looking for a way to bring more fun and competition to the school. The idea took hold, and seniors, juniors, sophomores and freshmen have been squaring off once a year ever since.
Originally consisting of just 10 events, the games have evolved into multi-day competitions, with about 50 events. They include most sports, such as soccer and touch football, as well as chess, Charades and Scrabble. Some have a limited number of participants, while others involve the entire school. There is a T-shirt design contest; the shirts, designed by a student from each class, become that class' uniform for all events.
During the Olympics there are shortened classes in the morning (except for Sunday), followed by competitions and games in the afternoon. Students who aren't competing at any given time are encouraged to cheer on their peers.
There is even a day when all the students go to the beach for events like bodyboarding and a short biathlon.
History teacher Jay Wilder is one of the few people who has participated in all 28 Olympics.
"The Olympics are wonderful," Wilder said. "First, they are just good fun. It's a break from school. Second, they really bring the classes together, and third, they teach the importance of sportsmanship."
Over the years he has seen the games evolve.
"Each year, more and more events are added," Wilder said. "About five years into it, we began going down to the beach, which was just great. It's wonderful to get everyone outside, off-campus, having fun together."
One of the most popular events in the Olympics is "The Wall." Nine members of each class must work together to get over a 9-foot wall. Other popular events include a beach tug-of-war, the talent show and lip-sync contests.
Every class also must serve a meal to the rest of the school sometime during the Olympics, and is judged on their polite performance.
Every HPA Olympics has its own theme, which is incorporated into the shirt design and several events. This year's Olympics featured an Ancient Greece theme, with events like chariot races and a javelin throw. The seniors won the Olympics, while the freshmen earned the Ohana award, given to the class that demonstrates the best sportsmanship during the games.