Friday, June 7, 2013

20th Anniversary: Mr. Prima

Mr. Prima with Daud Kyarizov (right), varsity boys' soccer player
20 years ago KIS was this small little International school just starting up in downtown Kiev. Teams didn’t travel to CEESA tournaments. There were no local sports leagues. In fact, there weren’t even sports teams at the time. KIS didn’t even have a gym of their own at the time. In the beginning, KIS shared a Ukrainian facility with another Ukrainian school. Yet, looking at KIS now, not only do we have one gym but in 2010 a second gym was added, the new artificial turf soccer field, the new track, and the new workout location with machines also have been added. Now there are over 20 teams of various sports on both the secondary and middle school levels, many of which travel to various CEESA tournaments throughout the year. As well as the establishment of a local league for most of these sports and the junior league for elementary kids for both basketball and soccer, which has been, in large part, the work of Mr. Anatoly Prima.
In the infant stages of KIS, 17 years ago in 1996, Mr. Prima knew the school. He was working in Ukrainian school 106 at the time. KIS was so small that it was sharing school 106’s athletic facilities. In fact, this was how the local league got started. Through sharing and having to work around each other’s classes, he and Mr. Zeegers met and got to talking. They then decided to do something between the two schools and each put a girls and boys basketball team together and started to play in competitions. Then with the aid of funds from the Canadian embassy, the Canadian Basketball League was made. The name would be changed later after other sponsors such as Coke-a-Cola came into the picture. These beginning investors helped to get the league going by purchasing new basketballs, new backboards, and a new paint job for the gym, and more. However, Mr. Prima did not stop there.
Mr. Prima teaching one of his P.E. classes
About 7 years ago, the director of KIS at that time asked Mr. Prima if he wanted to start a program for younger kids, of elementary age. Mr. Prima then began the junior league for both basketball and soccer. At first, much like in the case of the local league, it was a slow to start at the beginning, with only enough kids to have a couple of teams. Yet, step by step by step, this has grown into a huge program. Before, they allowed and invited kids from other schools to come and join the league. However, in recent years, there have been so many kids trying to join and spots have filled up so quickly. In fact, part of the money made from junior leagues has gone into the new machines and the set up of our recent weight room.  Mr. Prima however isn’t alone in these endeavors, his wife, Mrs. Prima, and two sons who also attend KIS are always there at his side helping him along the way.
Mrs. Prima
In fact, interestingly enough, his wife Mrs. Prima, came to be a part of the KIS staff about 2 or 3 years before he did. At that time he went from teaching and working at school 106 to working at the American Embassy for a short time.  During Mr. Prima's short time at the American Embassy,  he received the guard of the year award and was nominated for many other awards. However, when KIS offered him a job, even with a much lower salary then what he made at the American Embassy, he gladly accepted. “It was great money at the American Embassy but, I didn’t want to do that…I wanted to go back to teaching.” So that’s what he did. In Mr. Prima's experience, teaching at KIS is much different than at the Ukrainian school. It’s a completely different curriculum and way of teaching as compared to the Ukrainian system. Therefore it was a challenge to transition between the two systems, as well as, the language challenge. Mr. Prima needed to learn athletic terms in English, but step by step it got easier.  Mr. Prima likes work, and being a part of the KIS staff and community. 

By: Tim Roby