As world athletes gathered in Pyeongchang, South Korea, for the Winter Olympics, students at Holt Crossing Intermediate participated in their school's biennial version of the games.

Just as the athletes do in the world games, the students experienced the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

But Holt Crossing's games are about something even more important.

"What our Olympics really are about is the spirit of sportsmanship," said Sharon Garver, former Holt Crossing physical education teacher.

Garver started the games in 1980 when she taught at Harmon Elementary School and later moved them to Holt Crossing when she started teaching there.

"Our students can earn gold, silver and bronze medals for doing well in their individual and team events," said Rachel Scott, Holt Crossing's current physical education teacher.

"The medals that matter the most, though, are ones their teams win for showing the best sportsmanship," Scott said.

The school holds its Olympics every two years, corresponding with when the world games are held, she said.

Since Holt Crossing hosts only fifth- and sixth-grade classes, each student gets the chance to participate in the school's games once during their two years at the building, Scott said.

The opening ceremonies for Holt Crossing's games were held Feb. 9.

Competitions were held during the week of Feb. 12, with finals held Feb. 16. A closing ceremony with medal presentations was scheduled for Feb. 20.

This year's event included competitions in basketball, volleyball, bobsled, slalom skiing, luge and floor hockey.

For the skiing, luge and bobsled events, students rode or were pushed on scooters around the school gym.

"Each classroom in each grade is assigned a different country," Scott said. "We also have separate competitions and medals for each grade level."

The competition results in pandemonium among student spectators, she said.

"It gets really loud, almost to the point that you need earplugs," Scott said.

What is most heartening to Garver is why the students are cheering.

"It's a great atmosphere," she said. "They're cheering to support each other and for the fun of the games."

Throughout the games, teachers observe and make a note when they see a team or student demonstrating good sportsmanship, Garver said.

"The more often you and your team show sportsmanship, the more points your team earns," she said.

The awarding of the sportsmanship medals are determined by the number of points a team earns, Scott said.

Along with sportsmanship, students are also learning about working together in a common effort, Garver said.

"It's more about the team than yourself," she said.

Sixth-grader Braden Sheets competed in the bobsled and slalom skiing events for his team, the United States.

"The Olympics was something I was really looking forward to all of last year and into this year," he said. "We're really lucky that we get to be involved in something that's unique only to our school (in the South-Western district.)"

"It's fun to be involved in something that's similar to the real Olympics," said sixth-grader Marvin Dee, a member of team Germany's floor-hockey squad.

"I'm definitely paying more attention to the Olympics on TV since we have our own games," he said. "I can relate to it more."

While everyone wants to do as well as they can in the competition, Braden said he liked the friendly nature of the school's games.

"I like that everybody's cheering for each other," he said.

Whether he wins a medal or not, "this is going to be an experience I'll always remember about Holt Crossing," Braden said. "It's like a highlight of my life."