A list of teams participating in the second annual Pau-Wa-Lympics this week suggests that the five-day event is a different kind of games than what transpired in London over the summer.
The Scurvy Pirates, the Underachievers, Taste Our Rainbow and the Paint Bombs were just a few of 25 teams that paraded their flags onto the sandy track on Monday for the school's equivalent of the opening ceremonies. A chariot slide, during which students towed each other on sheets, immediately followed in the gym.
"Last year was the first year we did this, so this year has been easier," said 14-year-old ninth-grader Alex Dolan.
Dolan, a student in one of the leadership classes that organized the event, was selling Otter Pops with classmate Alex Powers, also 14, as part of the opening festivities.
The pair said that the Pau-Wa-Lympics helps unite the school and include students who otherwise struggle to fit in.
"It gets kids to participate," said Dolan. "They definitely get more involved."
"It builds team spirit," added Powers.
Both students were looking forward to the water orb (balloon) launch on Thursday. Other events throughout the week included a tire-rolling relay race, Lifesaver drop, full-elimination dodgeball and "Name That Tune."
"You try to catch the orb with your own hands," Dolan explained. "The first-place prize for the games is a free ticket to the dance. Second and third place get free snacks."
With three heats in every competition, team players rotated so that each student got a shot at glory sometime in the week. Leading up to the school's big dance Friday night was a medals ceremony.
"The point when we started this is to have some activity where the whole school can be involved," said PWL leadership and math teacher Dana Kyle. "In leadership, we focus on team-building, that sense of family, and we wanted to carry that message to the entire school."
On Monday, Kyle was cleaning up after the chariot slide in the gym.
"The kids were all super-psyched," she said. "The whole student body spent 45 minutes in the gym but never once turned negative or got bored."
Kyle echoed Dolan and Powers by framing the games around the idea of inclusion.
"Some kids have sports, some kids have leadership, and some kids feel like they don't have anything," she said. "Now, they can feel like they're part of something bigger than themselves."
While players can get competitive in the actual events, Kyle said, there are other ways students can earn points, such as dressing in uniforms, working on team flags, and avoiding absences, tardy slips and discipline issues.
"It creates this second layer of incentive to be model citizens for the week," Kyle explained.
As the Olympic Games and host cities have their monuments, so Pau-Wa-Lu has erected a plaque to commemorate winning teams. Kyle noted there's plenty of room left for the years to come.