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Barb's Olympic Adventure Continues
Posting 3: The Opening Ceremony

Curriculum CenterBarbara Taddeo, a middle school special education teacher in San Mateo, California, is in Australia! While at the Summer Olympics, Taddeo will share with Education World readers her experiences and observations as a volunteer at the Games in Sydney. Plus she'll offer lessons to help Education World readers use the Olympic Games in their classrooms! Follow Taddeo's journey through her reports from Sydney!


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I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the opening ceremony at Olympic Park. The majority of the program was a living history of the country of Australia. Following are some highlights of the program.

The first part of the ceremony is great if you are a horse person. They had over 300 horses carrying Olympic flags as they galloped into the arena forming the Olympic rings. Many of the riders were members of the Pony Club, an international junior equestrian organization; the riders ranged in age from 12 to 21 years old. They wore the typical outfits worn by ranchers and cowboys who work in the outback today. This segment signified the arrival of the Olympics to Australia, the settling of Australia, and the Melbourne Cup, a famous horse race. The riders then changed flags and carried the Australian flags while everyone sang the Australian national anthem.

The second part of the ceremony was a deep-sea dream sequence showing a little girl who imagined that she was floating through the ocean. This scene represented Australia's close ties to the sea. (That is why my uniform shirt is blue with waves.) The sequence also showed images of huge fish, which represented the fish found around Australia.

The third part of the ceremony was the "awakening" sequence where the little girl meets Aborigines, the first inhabitants of Australia more than 60,000 years ago. The performers in this sequence are Aborigines from different parts of Australia. They performed an authentic Aboriginal dance called the Seven Sisters Dance. Many Aborigine elders from different tribes were brought in to watch the performance.

Teachers: This is an excellent spot for you to have your students reflect back on our Native American tribes and their native dances.

The segment also included a performance by two Aborigine tribes, the Eora people and the Dharug people. They performed a ceremony where the Eora people welcome the Dharug people and the two tribes come together. It should be noted that the Dharug tribe, or people as they are known here, once owned the land that is now the location of the Opera House.

The next segment of the program showed a burning bush of eucalyptus leaves that represented the cleansing of the Olympic Stadium. (Eucalyptus trees also grow in California.) The second segment was a short reenactment of Captain Cook's arrival to claim the country for England, and how his arrival changed the lives of the Aboriginal people.

Next came the fire breathers. More than 200 fire-breathing men shot flames from their mouths. This segment represented the burning of the plains after a harvest. Then came the wild flowers, which come out only after a forest fire. All of the flowers represented were the native flowers of Australia.

The next segment reenacted the arrival of settlers who came to Australia looking for gold during gold rush of 1851. At that time, about 95,000 people migrated to Australia. (Their gold rush was similar to the California gold rush of 1849, which opened up the western part of the United States to people from all over the world.) During this segment of the program, they actually erected tin houses!

The segment also included dancers dressed in black with cowboy hats; the dancers represented an Australian outlaw named Ned Kelly (similar to our Jessie James). The dancing continued to modern times, and even included a dance with lawn mowers! In addition, there were tap dancers who represented that recent fad.

Teachers: Talk about fads in our country and how they affect the way we live.

The last section of the opening ceremony was the Olympic section, which is required under the Olympic Organizing Committee charter. There was a huge marching band with more than 500 musicians from many bands across the United States. They performed many of the maneuvers we usually see at football games. Next, the bands played while the athletes walked into the stadium. (Note: For the first time in history, Korea and China walked in together under the Olympic flag and not under their own separate flags.)

After all the athletes were in place, the Olympic flag was brought in and the athletes and judges took the Olympic oath. Next, instead of releasing 100 doves as required by the charter, organizers showed the shadows of 100 doves on a huge Olympic flag that covered the athletes.

Teachers: Compare the history of the United States with that of Australia. Our two countries' histories share many similarities.

FOLLOW UP

The Horses The quarantine of the horses at the Horse Park has been lifted. All of the horses that are competing in the Games had to be placed under a two-week quarantine so it could be assured they would not bring diseases into Australia. Remember, this is the first and only time in history that this many foreign horses will be allowed into Australia. The horse events are going to be wonderful! Everything is so beautiful to watch. Check you local television listings.

The Torch On Thursday, September 14, the Olympic torch arrived at the Sydney Opera House. There was a huge fireworks show over the harbor and the bridge. Being present for the torch lighting had been one of my goals, as I explained before. I said four years ago that I wanted to be standing at the Sydney Opera House watching the 2000 Olympics fireworks show. They even had someone standing on top of the Opera House with the lit torch! Tell you more tomorrow.

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Barbara Taddeo has created these activities for the students of three schools -- but she has been kind enough to agree to share her daily reports with Education World's readers. We're pleased to be included in these daily mailings to the students in Taddeo's 7th grade class in Room 31 at Borel Middle School in San Mateo, California; Mrs. Hirschmann's class at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Turersville, New Jersey; and Lacey Rhoades' class in Mesa, Arizona.

Barbara Taddeo
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09/15/2000