FARMINGTON -- The world may get to witness an Olympic Games only every two years, but sixth-graders at Knowlton Elementary get to participate every year. However, their competition is a little more traditional.
"As part of our sixth-grade state core curriculum, we study ancient civilizations. We have been studying ancient Rome and Greece for the past few weeks," said sixth-grade teacher Kirstin Reed.
As a culmination of their studies, the students on Friday competed in five of the original games played at the Olympics -- with a few slight differences.
Dressed in Greek chitons, which are similar to togas, a row of students representing Argos, one of the five ancient Greek city-states, tossed pencils -- in lieu of javelins -- with all their might across the gymnasium floor.
"It's a lot of fun," said sixth-grader Tate Sheperd. "We have learned a lot about Greek mythology and civilization and how they believed in all those myths and gods and goddesses."
Students competed in events in which paper plates were used for the discus throw and beanbags took the place of the shot put. A crab-walk race represented wrestling.
What the students lacked in sporting equipment, they made up for in enthusiasm. After each event, the crowd erupted in deafening cheers and waved signs representing their city-states.
"It's awesome," said sixth-grader Joey Hunsaker. "We get to do the events and win. It teaches us what the Greeks did and how they lived and sportsmanship. Sportsmanship is when, like, you are a good sport and you don't think you are better than anybody else. We are cheering for everybody."
Besides history and culture, the sportsmanship of the Olympic Games is one of the lessons Reed hopes her students learn from the activity.
"We don't always have to win for it to be a great event. That is true for all life, just to participate and be a part of it. I think they understand that more on an Olympic year," she said.
"We can cheer on everyone and recognize everyone's success, even for those in other countries. Cheer the effort it takes to get up and compete."
The students also learned about the differences between the original Greek Olympics and the event in modern times; for instance, girls were not allowed to compete in the original Olympics.
And back then, said sixth-grader Chris Newhouse, "they were naked. I think that's kind of weird."
All of the students and teachers dressed in Greek and Roman wear of their choosing.
Outfits ranged from gold rope belts and laurel wreaths to SpongeBob SquarePants bedsheets.
"They really get into it. In all my years doing it, I have never had a student come without one (a toga)," said sixth-grade teacher Sonya Nelson.
As with all Olympic Games, the school's event started with a torch ceremony and ended with medals presented to the winners of each event.
"When I have students visit me from years past, they tell me they still remember those events," Reed said. "It's a lasting memory for them. It's definitely worth the extra work."
The event may seem like all fun and games, but the educators' goal is to teach their students.
"It cements it in their brain, because not only are they doing book reading and lectures about the civilization, they are actually experiencing it," Nelson said.
"I think it makes the whole difference in their education."
"If you read it in a book, you have got it in your head, but if you participate in it, you have it forever," said Principal Grace Larsen.
The Olympics obviously were memorable for sixth-grader Stephanie Jenkins, who was attired in butterfly-covered bedsheets.
She beamed after winning first place in the crab-walk race.
"I didn't think I was going to win. That is so cool," she said.
"We are all very happy we got to do the Olympics."