UNION, NJ – Students at Hannah Caldwell and Battle Hill Elementary Schools began this year’s reading journey with an Olympic-like ceremony, including flag waving and mock torch lightings.

The reading program, "The Amazing Reading Olympic Challenge: 5 Rings: 5 Continents: 5 Grade Levels”, was developed by Media Specialist Karen Franciosa.  “I decided to do an Olympic themed program because the Winter Olympics will be held this February in Pyeong Chang, South Korea.”

Franciosa said after she met with the kindergarten through fifth grade classes and provided them with a working knowledge of the Olympics, each grade level was assigned a colored ring as represented on the Olympic flag.

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Each class was assigned one of the five original nations that took part in the original Olympics:  Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia or Europe. Each class within each grade level then was further instructed to choose a country. “We researched what their flag looked like and they colored it for the Opening Reader Olympian Ceremonial Parade,” said Franciosa.

The ‘mock’ Olympic ceremony took place recently in both schools.  Students paraded in wearing the shirt color of their assigned ring waving their country's flag.  When seated, each class passed a torch up and down the rows to represent a torch relay.  The Olympic flame represented friendship, kindness and unity.

Finally, an Olympian ran with the torch handing it over to Franciosa, who then lit the mock Olympic flame signifying the start of the Reading Olympics. The flame will stay lit for the seven months of the program. Students are responsible for keeping a reading log and logging their minutes each month, trying to achieve a gold, silver or bronze medal. 

“Throughout the course of the seven months, I will meet with the classes and together we will research their countries so to be ready for a passport day/night,” said Franciosa.  “When the Winter Olympics start in February students will be encouraged to follow their countries to see how well they are doing.”