'Classroom Champions' connects Olympic athlete to West Allis students

CREATED Feb 4, 2014

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  • Dec 13, 2013; Park City, UT, USA; Erin Hamlin of the United States during the FIL women's Luge World Cup at Utah Olympic Park. Image by Jim Urquhart-USA TODAY Sports

WEST ALLIS - In Stephanie Ticali's classroom at Horace Mann Elementary in West Allis, the students have been counting down to the Olympics.

 
The group of 2nd and 3rd graders have a unique connection, thanks to a program called "Classroom Champions." The program connects an Olympic athlete to a class. 
 
Ms. Ticali's class is following luger Erin Hamlin. 
 
"They're always talking about Erin... how she goal-sets, how she is successful, they make that connection, said Ticali. She is a part of our classroom. We're friends with her."
 
Hamlin posts videos on the Classroom Champions website and the students post videos to cheer Erin on and express their excitement about the Olympics. One video the students posted features the group spelling out "Go Erin" by using their bodies to shape the letters, inside the school gym.
 
Ms. Ticali says it is moving to see how the Olympians respond to the students. 
 
"I still get chills thinking about that someone could get inspired by them. It opens them up to see how much power they can have even at 7-8 years-old.
 
Students say Erin teaches them how to stay strong despite obstacles.
 
"It makes me happy because she teaches us how to use perseverance and to never give up. She gives us all happiness," said 3rd grader Constance Clark.