Middle school students from 18 Nord Anglia Education affiliated schools traveled to Windermere to participate in the games last week.
| 2:56 p.m. December 12, 2019
While elementary and high school students at Windermere Prep were going about their day, more than 1,300 middle-schoolers flooded the athletic courts and fields out back.
For three days — Wednesday, Dec. 4, to Friday, Dec. 6 — students from 18 Nord Anglia Education-affiliated schools took over Windermere Prep as they participated in the NAE Global Games.
“NAE hosts these big global games for the Americas — which includes Brazil, Mexico, Ecuador, Panama and then the Americas,” Windermere Prep Marketing Manager Summer Simmons said. “It’s almost like an Olympics, so the kids come from those schools. … It’s a huge thing. The goal is for them to come and enjoy sports and games, but then also to meet students from other countries and other cultures and interact together.”
Just like the Olympics, the festivities kicked off with an Olympic-esque opening ceremony Wednesday, Dec. 4, where schools — decked out in their own colors — marched onto the football field before taking part in the national anthem, which was followed by a flyover.
“At the opening ceremony, when we were all together, we met this guy from Ecuador, and he introduced us to all of his friends and he was really nice to us — even though he had never met us,” said Henrique Petrongari Rosner, a sixth-grader at Windermere Prep.
After the ceremony, the games were on.
On the baseball field, games of soccer were being played, while other teams faced off on the basketball courts — both outside and indoor. In the pool, swimming was well underway, and behind the school, games of sand volleyball, flag football and archery were afoot.
But it was on the football field where a majority of the action was taking place. There, teams participated in boys and girls volleyball, soccer and track.
“Throughout the first two days, soccer has definitely been my favorite sport so far,” said William Kane, a sixth-grader at Windermere Prep. “I’ve never played soccer, but I love watching soccer — I know a lot about it — so I’ve always wanted to start playing, so it’s a great opportunity.
“My team … none of us (are) really amazing, but we’re all friends, and we got together and worked together really hard,” he said.
Luckily for William, the soccer team he was on was made up entirely of friends he knew at the school — including fellow sixth-grader Quinn Foley.
Having the chance to play alongside friends in a competition against middle schoolers from around the Americas was one of the biggest highlights of the week, Quinn said.
“We’ve been friends forever, so everybody that’s on the soccer team, we are all friends — we’re just trying to have fun together and we’re not trying to be super serious,” Quinn said. “We’re all just having a lot of fun — if somebody does something wrong, we just kind of laugh at it.”
Along with the plethora of sports, the games also gave students a chance to experience other aspects of the Olympic atmosphere. In one corner of Windermere Prep, there was an “Olympic Village” and a spot where students could grab food. Meanwhile, a video-game station offered students virtual athletic competitions, while a STEAM tent — co-run by the school and its partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — was a popular spot for students looking to participate in intellectual competition.
And if that wasn’t enough, students and their chaperones enjoyed the best of Orlando’s entertainment at the end of the day — visiting Andretti’s, Pirates Dinner Theater, Disney’s Very Merry Christmas Party and Universal. Of all the activities, those were among the highlights, Quinn said.
“We’ve been having a lot of fun, but at the end of the day, we’ll go to theme parks and stuff,” Quinn said. “Today, we are going to go to Magic Kingdom for the whole day, so that’s going to be a lot of fun, because everybody is going to be with each other. We can bond (there).”
Ultimately, the friendships and bridges built at the games will resonate long after the final whistles blew.
“I’ve just been really enjoying this — coming together with other schools and making new friends with them and just enjoying having fun,” William said.