Bronze Olympic Medalist Vandenberg Spoke to Canyon Students

The parade of athletes opened Olympic Days ceremony at Canyon School.

The opening ceremony at Canyon Elementary’s Annual Olympics Day on November 9, included flags from different nations.

Seventeen flags, one for each classroom, were carried, as students participated in the parade of athletes.  The fifth-grade classes always have the honor of carrying the United States flag and the Olympic flag.

The featured speaker was Olympic bronze medalist Kimberly Vandenberg.

Students in kindergarden through fifth grade listened as Kimberly Vandenberg spoke.

A Palisades resident, Vandenberg shared her story with kindergarten through fifth graders at the public elementary school.

Swimmer Kimberly Vandenberg showed students her bronze medal.

Vandenberg, a swimmer, narrowly missed qualifying for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and the 2004 games in Athens. She stressed to the kids the importance of being resilient and never giving up, because she then qualified for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and won a bronze swimming on the women’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay team.

The swimmer grew up in Moraga, California, and swam for Campolindo High School, specializing in butterfly and freestyle.

She won silver medals at the 2005 World University Games and a silver at the 2007 World Swimming Championships in the 200-meter butterfly. She took a gold medal in that event in the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara.

The medalist told the students about the three Olympic principles and the importance of each: excellence, respect and friendship.

Then, it was time for the students to show their grit and resilience by running laps around the school yard.

Students ran to help raise money for their school.

Olympics Day is one of Canyon school’s biggest fundraisers and students solicit pledges from friends, family and neighbors.

The biggest competition is to see which class has the most involvement and which class raises the most money.

“Mr. Stoll’s fifth grade class won a popsicle party for having the most kids created fundraising pages,” Olympics Day Chair Erin Fotos said. “Mrs. Lambs first grade class won a popsicle party for raising the most money.”

Fotos said that “monies raised from Olympics Day go straight to Canyon and are used for class instructional aides, our PE program, our arts and music program, our digital learning program, our reading specialist program, our science program and other supplemental enrichment programs and activities.”

Canyon Elementary Principal Nicole Sheard said, “This is always such a great day, and we love the tradition—A big thanks to the school community and to everyone who supported the event.”

(Editor’s note: Photographer Rich Schmitt has some outstanding photos of some of the athletes, which can be purchased separately from him. To view the photos, visit: click here.)

Canyon volunteer dad Jimmy Dean, encourages the youngest participants during Olympic Days. 

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