Apolo Anton Ohno, the most decorated Winter Olympian in U.S. history, spoke at Arlington Science Focus Elementary School this morning. He asked the assembled students to say “yes” to a healthy lifestyle and “no” to underage drinking.
Ohno started chants, led various physical activities, games and dances, and answered questions about his Olympic career.
Students, giddy with excitement over the Olympic star’s visit, also eagerly and loudly participated in a quiz about the dangers of alcohol.
‘In an interview after the event, Ohno, who usually speaks to middle school students, said he was impressed with how smart the Arlington Science Focus students were. He also said he was enjoying the opportunity to visit the Washington area.
“I love this area, I love D.C., so for me its fantastic,” Ohno said.
“I love speaking to these kids, whether it’s elementary school students or middle school students,” he continued. “Even if I get to change one percent of these kids’ lives, make one percent of a difference, it feels like I’m doing something right.”
Ohno was coy about his Olympic future, saying only that he’s taking “a break” from short track speed skating. In addition to speaking to students, Ohno is writing a book, just auditioned for a movie, and will be visiting the White House tomorrow. He also recently launched a line of nutrition supplements.
Ohno’s visit was sponsored by The Century Council, a Crystal City-based liquor industry group, as part of its Ask, Listen, Learn initiative.
Before the assembly, Ohno arrived via a black sedan and, with a big smile on his face, greeted school administrators and took a photo with a student under a large banner just outside the school’s entrance.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, an Arlington resident whose children attend Arlington Public Schools, also attended the event, along with superintendent Dr. Pat Murphy. Duncan spoke to the students briefly before introducing Ohno.
More photos after the jump.