Juneau schools get gift of Olympic proportions

Posted: Friday, April 12, 2002

The 2002 Olympic Torch Relay only visited Juneau for a day, but a gift will allow the spirit and legacy of its passage to carry on in Juneau schools.

An official Olympic torch - one of those used by a relay runner in Juneau on Jan. 24 - has been donated to the Juneau School District to commemorate the participation of students in the event. Juneau Parks and Recreation Director Kim Kiefer - who served on the local torch relay organizing committee - presented the torch to the Juneau School Board at its April 2 meeting.

Acquiring a torch had been a goal for Juneau School Board President Mary Becker, who also was on the local torch relay committee.

"We wanted a torch because the school district was intricately involved in the whole torch relay process," she said. "Every school was involved in one way or another. ... Having our students out there just made the day."

The Juneau School District developed curriculum to tie-in with the torch relay, and several high school students served as runners. Many students lined the streets outside their schools to watch the torch pass, and for those schools not located on the torch route the district provided funding to transport students to a viewing site.

Torchbearers had the opportunity to purchase the torch they carried for $335 after the relay. Becker said she made lots of inquiries to find someone willing to let the district have their torch, but had no success.

"I checked with almost every torchbearer in Juneau and they all wanted to buy theirs," she said.

Then Kiefer came through with the torch that was presented at last week's school board meeting. Kiefer was unable to share information about where the torch came from - other than it had been used in Juneau - but said the donation was made because of the strong participation of Juneau schools.

Becker said the torch will be put in a display case - possible locations include the district board room or Juneau-Douglas High School - and will also make the rounds to all of the district's schools.

About 12,000 torches were produced for the relay, which started in Atlanta on Dec. 4, wound through 46 states and ended in Salt Lake City on Feb. 8.

Andrew Krueger can be reached at akrueger@juneauempire.com.

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