Students at Chestatee High School spent the last hour of the school day Friday on the edge of their seats in front of screens throughout the school.
Friday was Jenny Arthur Day at Chestatee High, and the school watched as the 2012 graduate competed in the weightlifting Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Arthur came in sixth overall, setting a new American Olympic record with a lift of 107 kilograms (about 235 pounds) in the snatch. She lifted 135 kg in the clean and jerk.
Her family, including father Kelly Arthur Sr. and many of her seven siblings, were special guests. Hundreds cheered for them and for Jenny Arthur as they watched in the gymnasium, media center and auditorium.
“To have this much support, not only for Jenny, but for all of us, is wonderful,” Kelly Arthur said. “This is really a community, and for them to invite us here, we’re just overwhelmed.”
Chestatee Principal Suzanne Jarrard said she was “so excited” for Arthur and happy to have the family present to watch.
Kelly Arthur said he was moved by the crowd of students, faculty and staff stopping their day to watch.
“Thank you all so much,” he told a cheering crowd in the gymnasium. “You’ve been so supportive along the way. Jenny loves Chestatee. She sweats and bleeds Chestatee.”
Arthur’s sister, Julie Arthur, the oldest of the family’s eight siblings, said she spoke to her sister Friday morning.
“We’ve been talking to her through Facebook, GroupMe, Gmail, and we actually put together a video of encouraging words from all over and sent it to her,” Julie Arthur said. “And we talked to her this morning and she sent a couple pictures of her getting everything ready to go.”
Julie Arthur said was proud of her sister and how far she’s come in her sport.
“She’s been training for this for the longest time, for four or five years,” she said. “We’re all behind her and we’re proud of her.”
Kelly Arthur said he was proud of his daughter after the event ended.
“Not many parents can say they have a child in the Olympics,” he said. “So to see her perform on the highest level of athletics was just awesome. And to watch it with the family and really that entire community was just overwhelming. We loved it, and I don’t think you could have picked a better setting.”