Austintown principals sumo wrestle to reward students

As Austintown students meet math challenge, officials make good on promise

By Kalea Hall


The ground shook and the Austintown Intermediate School building roared with excitement as students, with fists in the air, cheered.

“Kelty, Kelty, Kelty,” could be heard throughout the hallways, especially when the battle began.

“Let’s get ready to rumble,” yelled Angel Owens, fourth-grade principal at AIS.

Fifth-grade principal Jeffrey Swavel and third-grade principal Tim Kelty made every one of the students at AIS smile, laugh and yell as loudly as possible Tuesday when they donned sumo-wrestling gear and battled,

not once, but four times. The principals wanted to reward the students for receiving more than 200,000 practice points from the program First in Math.

“We wanted to inspire the kids,” Swavel said as he downed water after the second battle. “We wanted to get them to use the math program.”

About 1,200 third- through fifth-grade students at AIS not only reached the goal the administrators and teachers set, but they exceeded it. The students practice math on the program in their free time and earn stickers. The more stickers, the better.

Some of the students received awards during the sumo-wrestling assembly for receiving 3,000 to 4,000 stickers.

One of the teachers told the principals they should sumo wrestle to not only encourage the students, but to reward them with some fun. So, they rented the suits and battled until one of them would topple over after a few bumps to the belly and side.

“This is a good way to get them excited for the [Thanksgiving] break,” Swavel said.

The principals played nice, of course, and made sure to show their Falcon pride. Swavel was the red sumo wrestler and Kelty was the blue. Each of them took home two victories.

Students anxiously awaited the arrival of the principals in the gymnasium at AIS. The principals took a breather and a drink break inside a closet in the gym. They also had to have more air pumped into the suits before they heard their cue to come out and put on a show for the students.

From the blue corner came “Mr. float like a butterfly and sting like a bee Kelty,” Owens yelled to the students.

The students yelled “Kelty” as he entered the gym, arms in the air and moving his feet like Rocky Balboa. Naturally, the “Rocky” theme song played on as Kelty high-fived students before the battle.

In the front row, Sahara Lawver, 8, a third-grader at AIS, and her friends could barely contain their excitement for the battle of the principals. All of the girls were on Kelty’s side.

“I feel very curious about this,” said Raegan McNally, 9, also in the third-grade.

To their advantage, Kelty took the victory in the third battle of the day.

The students were given a new goal to reach with the First in Math program for next month. If they meet it, the teachers will sing Christmas carols.

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