Welsh schools in Olympic link with Shawn Johnson

Shawn Johnson in competition at Beijing Olympics in 2008 American Shawn Johnson won a gold and three silver medals at the Beijing Olympics in 2008

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Pupils and teachers at two Welsh schools are set to share their own Olympic dreams with schools in the United States as part of a new project.

Ysgol Bryn Alyn secondary in Wrexham and Herbert Thompson primary in Cardiff are just two of 45 UK schools in the scheme ahead of the London 2012 games.

Both Welsh schools are being twinned with those attended by the gold medal-winning US gymnast Shawn Johnson.

The two-year project is a partnership between the BBC and British Council.

"I was speechless and completely overwhelmed when I heard we had been selected," said Terri Ritchie, a year 11 pupil at Bryn Alyn in Gwersyllt.

She is spending the weekend in London meeting staff and students from Valley Southwoods Freshman High in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Start Quote

The values, energy and excitement of the London 2012 Olympics are a wonderful way to bring schools together”

End Quote Vicky Gough British Council

"I felt that it was completely unbelievable, as I simply didn't think that our school would have been successful taking into account the number of schools who had put forward an application."

She is being joined at the first Olympic Dreams event at the British Museum by PE teacher, Jo Ebrey, who was the driving force behind the school's entry for the project.

"It will be a fantastic opportunity for our pupils and the community surrounding our school, and will really begin to get Wrexham and Wales focused on what the London 2012 Olympics can do for us," said Mrs Ebrey.

After meeting their twinned school on Saturday, a student and teacher from the US school are travelling to Bryn Alyn to see the Welsh school for themselves on Tuesday.

Visitors from another of gymnast Johnson's former schools will also be travelling to Cardiff next week, to catch up with pupils at Herbert Thompson primary in Ely.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for us," said Jan Cunningham, the school's physical education co-ordinator, who is also at the launch event for the project in London.

'Massive inspiration'

"All our children have been working on their own dreams, about what they want to achieve in life.

"This is a massive inspiration."

She said the scheme really played into the whole ethos of the school, especially its motto: "Find your talents and let them grow, be the person you'd like to know".

The project is set to run for the next two years, supporting teachers in developing school-to-school partnerships and encouraging pupils to share creative work inspired by the London Olympics.

Amanda Farnsworth, BBC London 2012 project executive, said: "This is the beginning of an exciting global conversation between schools right across the UK and our World Olympic Dreams athletes' schools from every continent across the world.

"Their enthusiasm to follow our athletes and their schools is the start of a journey which we hope will involve every school in the UK."

Vicky Gough, from the British Council's Connecting Classrooms team, added: "School linking is a great way of building trust and understanding between people in different parts of the world and helping children to become global citizens.

"The values, energy and excitement of the London 2012 Olympics are a wonderful way to bring schools together around the world."

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