The 2008 Olympics are still five months away, but Sunflower School had its own opening ceremony Thursday - for state assessments.
Former Olympian and Lawrence resident Scott Huffman gave the students a motivational speech to get them geared up for the tests.
"I talked about how many times I've failed because I think kids need to understand there's a lot of failure that goes into success and just keep trying," Huffman said. He competed in the pole vault at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
Kansas students in third through eighth grades are being tested on math, science, reading and social studies to determine whether they are performing up to state standards.
Some students get worried about the tests. "It's all this pressure!" said fifth-grader Riley Shook.
Huffman calmed her nerves. "It just assures you that the teachers want you to do well," he said, "and that even if you don't do the best, at least they know you tried."
The opening ceremony began with a student from each grade carrying a "torch," a flashlight in a brown paper bag. Principal Jason Jones had the students watch a slide show, complete with the theme song "Stand Up For the Champions," to show how they've been training all year for the testing.
Teachers, or their coaches, are in charge of getting students ready to "Go For the Gold," Sunflower's testing motto. Students got gold medals or American flag lapel pins to show their spirit.
Students in third through sixth grades will be tested in reading and math. Fourth-graders will also be tested in science, and sixth-graders will be tested in social studies.
The assessments began at the end of February and will continue through March.