From the sports-regal march into the gym, through the Star Spangled Banner playing to the stands of excited family members and friends there to support the students competing, the Mini-Olympics is an annual competition that creates fond memories for all who are involved at the Fern Adair Conservatory of the Arts. While this is the third consecutive year of the Mini-Olympics, this event has a long standing history with the school and will be presented on May 21st this year, in the gymnastics facility at the Conservatory. Besides accentuating the gymnastic skills that the students have acquired throughout the year, it is a time for the young gymnasts to show their support and respect for each other. At this moment for the students, it is about proving their capabilities to themselves and competing for their individual scores, not comparing themselves to their peers.
The Mini-Olympics is held at the Fern Adair Conservatory of the Arts for all students who are enrolled in the gymnastics department. Students ages 4-16 years will compete in categories such as floor work, high and parallel bars, vault, rings, beam, and trampoline. The competition is divided into class levels so that each child only competes with those who are at a comparable skill set. There are five to six events running until finally everyone has completed all events. The students are assessed based on their form and performance level and these scores reflect how well they execute what they can do, not what they have not yet learned. Each category has a judge to determine the awards. Prizes range from a participation certificate and medal, which everyone receives, to distinct ribbons and medals for the event winners.
Fern Adair, the director and owner of the Conservatory, believes that having this event helps to focus the children’s attention during class allowing them to show what they have learned in a more encouraging and relaxed setting. It also provides an opportunity for kids to set goals for themselves and be inspired by those who may be more advanced than them. This form of outlet creates a camaraderie between students allowing them to gain assurance and feel pride in what they have achieved. As an observer from last year’s event stated, “It’s so inspiring to watch the kids cheer for each other and encourage the best from each”. This is the goal of the coaches who have followed the journey and process of each student, knowing where they began and how far they have come. Some individuals come in afraid to bend upside down, while others have no fear. Some come in flexible while others come in strong. Each student has his or her own challenges to meet and seeing the progression in each student is what makes not only the teacher, but the student proud. And this gratification and fulfillment of self is what the Mini-Olympics is all about.