After students in the Phoenix Central School District attended last year’s Special Olympics in Cicero, PCSD personnel were so inspired that they wanted to start their own event for Oswego County students.
That idea, first pitched to administrators by physical education teacher Angie Neiss, quickly blossomed and will become a reality when Phoenix hosts the Oswego County Olympiad Invitational on May 14.
The event will include participants from all nine Oswego County school districts as well as representatives from the Center for Instruction, Technology & Innovation.
“It is going to be a great day,” said PCSD Superintendent Judy Belfield. “The Special Olympics last year in Cicero had just expanded to the point where they were looking at other options. Angie came back and ran the idea past me and the athletic director, and we were on board!”
Since those initial discussions nearly a year ago, Phoenix teachers, administrators and support staff have been ironing out the details, soliciting donations and working in conjunction with CiTi and Oswego County school districts to ensure the event is a success.
While still in the planning stages, Belfield noted that the committee has already developed some “great ideas” to make the inaugural Olympiad a memorable one for all involved.
“We would like to have school district mascots to lead each school around the track during opening ceremonies. We’re also hoping to have other mascots, like the Syracuse Crunchman and Otto the Orange, there for the event,” Belfield said.
In addition to bringing in mascots, the planning committee is hoping to inject some star power with its master of ceremonies.
According to the superintendent, the emcee has not yet been selected, but will likely be an athlete or a representative with a handicapping condition who has overcome adversity and is a role model for the participants.
Belfield said she expects anywhere from 200-300 student participants in kindergarten through 12th grades from across Oswego County.
Those participants will have an opportunity to compete in track and field events and also enjoy other activities, such as parachute games and face-painting.
“We are really looking forward to hosting the first-ever Oswego County Olympiad Invitational,” Belfield said. “We’ll have water and Gatorade and the concession stand will be open – it’s going to be fantastic.”
While the district has already received a donation of energy drinks and water, Belfield said sponsors are being sought and donations are welcome to help offset some of the costs (participant ribbons, portable restrooms, a balloon arch, etc.) associated with hosting the event. Community members or business owners who would like to contribute to this event may contact Belfield at 695-1555.
The invitational will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 14 at John C. Birdlebough High School.
The rain date is May 21.