Fort Meade students join first lady at mini-Olympics
March 22, 2012
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (March 22, 2012) -- After leaving a meeting at Manor View Elementary School on March 8, Principal Donna O'Shea was told that she had received a phone call from the office of the first lady.
O'Shea called back and was told that the school was invited to represent Maryland at a mini-Olympic competition that would be hosted by Michelle Obama, March 13.
The event was held in conjunction with the White House's announcement that the first lady will lead the U.S. delegation to the opening ceremonies for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. The competition also was part of Obama's "Let's Move!" initiative to promote fitness and healthy eating.
O'Shea was asked to select 20 students to participate in the one-hour competition at American University in Washington, D.C.
"It was a huge deal for us," O'Shea said.
According to an email from the White House, Manor View was selected because of its "excellent reputation."
The school randomly selected the students and asked parents to complete a permission form. Nineteen are military children.
O'Shea and two staff members, Colleen Mangan, a fifth-grade teacher, and Yolanda Lackey, a special education teacher, accompanied the students by school bus to Washington, D.C.
At the event, Obama was joined by Britain's first lady, Samantha Cameron, who traveled to the United States with her husband, British Prime Minister David Cameron, on an official two-day visit.
Fifth-graders from MacFarland Middle School in Washington, D.C., and Arlington Science Focus Elementary School in Virginia also participated.
"I think it was a very good experience that I will remember for the rest of my life," said Austin Slack, 11, of Manor View. "It's a story I will tell my kids about."
The children were divided into three teams -- red, white and blue -- and competed against each other in basketball, soccer, tennis and relay races.
A group of athletes led the children in the competitions including such Olympians as gymnast Dominique Dawes, basketball player Lisa Lesley and former American decathlete Dan O'Brien; soccer players Lori Ann Lindsey and Becky Sauerbrunn of the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team; and Paralympians David Wagner, Kortney Clemons and April Holmes.
During the event, Obama spoke to the children about what she feels is the true meaning of the Olympic Games.
"It's not just about who wins the medals, or which country wins the most medals. The Olympic Games are about commitment, about determination, and most importantly, it's about teamwork," said the first lady, according to the Associated Press.
Later, Obama hit a few tennis balls with the Manor View students including Seana Townes, daughter of Staff Sgt. LaShunda Rodgers.
"It was a fun experience," the 10-year-old said. "She was very happy at the time. I was really excited."
Manor View -- the blue team -- came in second place in the competition. Each of the students received a hug from Obama and a silver medal.
"It was the best day of their lives," O'Shea said. "They will never forget it."