Shuster kids lead Olympic parade through school
Luke Shuster, 8, and his brother Logan, 6, led a procession through Great Lakes Elementary School last week as a nod to their father, John Shuster, who carried the flag during the Opening Ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China.
SUPERIOR — Chants of “USA, USA, USA” echoed through the halls of Great Lakes Elementary School Friday, Feb. 4, as a parade of students walked through the halls waving torches made of tin foil, construction paper, cups, glitter, tissue paper and more. At the head of the procession walked Luke Shuster, 8, and his brother Logan, 6, waving American flags.
That morning, the brothers watched their father, U.S. Olympic curler John Shuster, carry the U.S. flag at the opening ceremony of the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, China. Shuster carried the flag along with co-bearer and three-time Olympic speedskater Brittany Bowe.
“That was awesome,” said Luke, a third grader.
Following in his father’s footsteps, the 8-year-old adopted a similar flag-waving technique.
“Normally you should hold it with two hands right next to each other so you can get a better momentum swinging,” Luke said.
Teachers, students and administrators watched the parade walk past.
“It’s pretty cool. I mean, his dad got to do it in the Olympics and the teachers have done a good job, I think, making this as special as possible, not just for Luke but a lot of the other kids,” said Great Lakes Principal Ryan Haroldson. “The families know John and will be rooting for him.”
This is John Shuster’s fifth trip to the Olympics. In 2018, he and his team earned the gold medal. Having a school parent who is also an Olympian offered a unique learning opportunity to the third grade teaching team.
“(We) like to do things that motivate the kids and we wanted to tie it on with current events. And when will we ever have this opportunity again to have a five-time Olympian's child be part of our classroom?” asked third grade teacher Shelly Bong.
The lesson encompassed geography and research. Each student had to come up with one fact about a country that was not the U.S. They incorporated Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) by designing their torches for the procession, and learned why they now release balloons instead of doves at the start of the winter games.
Friday's event made an impression on Luke, who expects his father to bring home a second gold medal.
"First of all, my dad is really cool. And about the parade, it was awesome being able to carry the flag around the whole school," said Luke. "It's really awesome how they’ve been supporting us the whole way.”
It was, said Bong, a community effort.
“It makes it easy when you work with nice families and you support each other,” she said. “That’s the nice thing about little Luke is he’s proud and he’s confident, but he includes everyone. The whole family’s that way. So that’s why it’s so easy to do."
The learning will continue in coming weeks as students keep track of medals. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity, Bong said.
"Kids don’t remember a lot, as they get older, of elementary school. And we hope that this is in their brains forever," she said.
The opening ceremony capped off the school’s day-long winter celebration for positive behavior. As part of the Positive Behavior Intervention Supports event, students enjoyed ice skating, sledding and hot chocolate.
“It’s really been kind of an exciting day at Great Lakes,” Haroldson said.
Shuster has served as a role model for students at Great Lakes. He’s come to talk with students about sportsmanship and participated in the school’s “High five Fridays.” He even brought in his gold medal and left it at the school for them to show students.
“I know (he) would do anything for the school community if we ask him to,” Haroldson said.
It is, he said, a little surreal. For the families at Great Lakes, Shuster is both a world-renowned athlete and a neighbor. Many plan to tune in to the winter games.
"Myself, as well as the kids and teachers, will probably have it on and be rooting him on for the second gold medal in a row,” Haroldson said.