Unflagging Support, Protection for Longsjo Olympic Banner in Fitchburg
FITCHBURG -- An Olympic flag found its seasonal home Thursday inside the school named after Fitchburg’s famed Olympian.
“We want to get the kids involved, make them understand what this Arthur Lonsgjo is all about,” said Bob Campbell, vice-president of the city’s East Rotary Club. “Especially if you’re from Fitchburg, you’ve got to know the history of Fitchburg.”
On Thursday morning, Campbell and Rotary East Club President Mike Hurley lowered the Olympic flag from a pole behind the Arthur Longsjo Memorial on Main Street, and replaced it with the U.S.A.’s stars and stripes.
Fitchburg Rotary East requested the flag from the U.S. Olympic Committee last spring, Hurley said.
It replaces a similar flag that went missing when city offices moved from the old City Hall to Putnam Place on Boulder Drive, he said.
Hurley and Campbell then brought the flag to Longsjo Middle School, so-named after the championship winning cyclist and speed skater who died in a car crash in Vermont in 1958.
Two years before his untimely death, Longsjo became the first American athlete ever to compete in both the summer and winter Olympics in the same year, Hurley told three Student Council members.
Longsjo Middle School’s mascot is, fittingly, The Olympians. The flag will be displayed in a case in the lobby of the school near the gymnasium.
Each summer for the Longsjo Classic, the flag will be raised again above the Arthur Longsjo Memorial, and then returned the school for safe keeping during the harsh winter months.
“This flag shows the significance of why these students are called The Olympians, and what Longsjo did,” said Hurley.
Eighth-grader Isabella Liotta, 13, who is Student Council president, said her school’s mascot distinguishes it from other middle schools.
“I think about how other schools have mascots as an animal, and we have a biker,” she said. “It makes me want to represent the school as best we can.”