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Students vs. Teachers

What could be more fun than competing against your teachers? In 2006, the Smith Middle School Booster Club launched the Cyclone Games, a tradition that 's still going strong. The key to success, says booster club president Margaret Conrad, is to offer students and teachers a different way to interact--along with inviting special guests from the community and providing a nutritious meal for everyone.


By Margaret Conrad
President, Smith Middle School Booster Club
Chapel Hill, N.C.


For the last five years, we've hosted event called the Cyclone Games, which is a fun, light-hearted fundraiser with a lot of friendly competition and a healthy dinner. Kids love playing against their teachers, and there's a lot of good-natured smack talk that goes back and forth between them. Everybody brings their own personality to it, which really sets the mood.


To vary the program from one year to the next, we get input from students and teachers about which games they like best. This time, we wanted to create a "best-of" from the last five years, so we had Ultimate Ball, which uses a ball instead of a Frisbee, Scooter Basketball, where players ride on dollies, and Football Frenzy, where everybody gets to play both quarterback and receiver.


The games are all a little off-beat, which is part of the charm. The teachers make up their own nicknames, so Elizabeth Bunn, who's a science teacher and the faculty rep on the booster club, was "Blazin' Bunn." Elizabeth always takes the lead on the organizing the games, and she brings a lot of passion to it, which is exactly what you need.


A history teacher, Eli Peich, was our emcee for the night. He called himself "Peich Dogg," and he did a running commentary that got everybody chanting and cheering. Our athletic director, Don Minnick--"The Don-minator"--set up tables in the cafeteria, swept the gym floor, and made sure the equipment was ready. We had a lot of participation from coaches and teams, including baseball, basketball, soccer, track, and wrestling.


With an event like this, it helps to have support from the community. Eric Montross, who does commentary for the Tar Heels Sports Network, has been helping us from the beginning. He's very well-known and well-loved in this town, and it's a great incentive for the kids and teachers to have a shooting contest against him. This year, we also had Carla Overbeck, who coaches women's soccer at Duke University. Carla is a big-deal player--she captained the U.S. Olympic Team that won the gold medal in 1996--which makes her a big draw in our soccer juggling contest.


The University of North Carolina is very supportive, too. A former booster club president works as the director of UNC's Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, which donated most of the food. This year, her students organized the menu, which included three kinds of healthy pizzas with homemade dough, sauces, and locally-grown toppings. They prepared all the food and ran the Healthy Dessert Contest, where students made dishes that were judged on taste and nutritional value.


For publicity, we announced the event over the school PA system, sent flyers home, and included a link on the school Web site. Mostly, the key is getting teachers to participate because if they do, their students will come to play against them. Then, once the teachers realize how much fun it is, they're happy to come back the next year.


With enough teachers participating, the games essentially run themselves. Plus, we have about ten boosters selling concessions, taking money for tickets, serving meals, and helping out in the kitchen. We charged $3 for admission, $4 to play, or $6 to play and eat dinner, and we raised $400, which will go toward new track uniforms and recreational equipment for recess.


The event has grown over time, and this year, we had more people than ever: about 20 teachers and 100 kids. It's a unique time when kids and teachers can have fun together, everyone can participate, and the competition isn't as intense as gets in high school. It's a great event that highlights fun, learning, and team-building, which are the things I love most about middle school sports.



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