** Check Out the Video Below**
I look forward to the fall school semester each year for a variety of reasons: it's shorter than the spring semester, there's more holidays, fall is my favorite season and SPORTS DAY!! This past week my school had Sports Day, which is probably the most highly anticipated day of the entire school year for Korean students. All Korean schools, elementary through high school, celebrate Sports Day once a year. On Sports Day, the student body is divided into two teams (Blue Team and White Team) and they compete in various races and games to win points for their teams. Most of the events are your typical well-known activities such as tug-of-war, baton relay races, and group jump rope; while other events are funny games like pulling your classmate in a bucket to the finish line or bobbing for cookies hanging on a string. A majority of the students' parents come to Sports Day to watch, and there are even events in which the parents can participate to win points for their child's team.
Relay Baton Races
Although Sports Day is meant to be a fun day off from the regular academic schedule, it actually requires a lot of preparation; in fact, teachers and students practice Sports Day events every morning for two weeks prior to the actual day. Teachers even cancel some classes, like English class, in order to fit in practice time. I would often watch the teachers and students practice doing running drills and reciting parts of the opening and closing ceremony from my office window.
Entrance for the Students
On Sports Day, the principal leads the opening ceremony, which consists of the Korean pledge of allegiance, national anthem and a welcoming speech to the students, parents, the school board and even principals from the other surrounding schools. Once the opening ceremony is finished, the student body does a choreographed stretching/warm-up routine and the teams are introduced. On Sports Day, each teacher is assigned a particular role(s) for the day and I happened to be given the task of handing out programs and refreshments to the parents. Other teacher's jobs include changing the score board, leading the different events, announcing, and timing the relays. Activities are played out from 9:30-12pm, and then there is a break for lunch. All parents are expected to bring a picnic-style lunch to eat with their kids, which usually includes kimbap, pizza, or chicken; and all the teachers eat together in the cafeteria. After lunch, Sports Day is concluded with a tug-of-war finale and the closing ceremony in which the principal announces the winning team and dismisses the students.
Because of the magnitude, preparation and importance of Sports Day in Korea, I can’t quite compare it to any school activities in the U.S. Some things are better said with photos!
(Here's a video that I took with SnapChat, so please excuse the poor quality and the vertical image)