On the heels of the final meet of our track and field season, and inspired by a recent post by one of my favourite PE bloggers of late, today’s post focuses on our annual Junior School track and field meet.
Each year, we rent out Swangard Stadium, which used to house the pre-MLS Vancouver Whitecaps football club. It’s a decent little venue that features a forest on the south side and a view of the North Shore mountains on the north side. When it’s nice out, it’s a pretty fantastic place to be! Last year, however, West Coast Weather™ appeared. Gross.
When I first started at the school, it was a gong show of an event, with the K-7 students participating in the morning, and 8-12 students participating in the afternoon. Teachers, somewhat begrudgingly, ran each event.
Now, the event is for K-7 students only, and the Grade 6 and 7 students are responsible for running the events, which includes organizing students and recording results, while under the watchful eye of a staff member or two. The morning features K-2 and Grade 7 students participating in events, and the afternoon sees Grade 3-6 students get their chance to shine. The events are modified according to LTAD guidelines where appropriate, and are as follows:
- Chicken throw (javelin)
- Baseball throw (shot put)
- Frisbee throw (discus)
- Long jump
- High jump
- Shot Put
- Long Jump
- High Jump
Grade 2-7 students can also choose to participate in optional 400m/800m races. This year, we had Grade 1 students asking to participate in these runs, and we excitedly accommodated these requests.
All students participate in these events, and rotate through every 15 minutes. In the past, students rotated through either in homeroom classes (K-2) or gender groups (3-7). However, we decided to try something different, to further emphasize and enhance the inter-grade connections that are valued at our school. We split students into mixed-age/gender/grade groups. We were a bit worried about how this might impact the recording and scoring of events, but given that we tried to group students according to ability within their mixed-age/gender/grade groups, it actually worked rather well.
The event serves as a great opportunity for our Grade 6s and 7s to take on a leadership role, something that is very much emphasized in the Senior School through the Creativity, Action and Service (CAS) component of IB. Sometimes some groups need a bit more support, and we ensure that teachers are there to step in if need be. But most of the time, the kids blow us away with how well they run their respective events.
So why do we do this event? Well, it is one of the few opportunities that we as a Junior School get together throughout the year. Given that we are a K-12 school, we value any opportunity we can get to work with different grades and age groups. However, for Grade 4-7 students, we also use this event as a means of qualifying for the track and field team.
In past years, we ran track and field as we would any other team – students sign up, show up to practice, and go to meets. However, we found that this drastically impacted the number of participants we had, and less importantly, the quality of our team. Many students who are involved in a number of extra-curricular sports and activities were unable to join the team due to their prior commitments. Additionally, those students who needed a nudge to join, often didn’t join.
This changed when we used the meet as a qualifying event. Now, our top 5 finishers in each event would attend practices and the first meet of the year. Said meet would then determine the qualifiers for our final event. As a result, we were able to involve a significantly larger number of students in track and field while improving the quality of our team.
This positively impacted the success of the overall team, and the individual results. We started racing up the rankings in our local association, and are currently waiting to see if we surpassed our prior highest ranking and points totals. But I digress.
Our meet looks quite a bit different than those that you might see elsewhere, but it works for us. The various changes we’ve made over the years have definitely helped improve the event, and I look forward to seeing how we can further improve it in the future.
Until next time…