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With summer quickly approaching, the school year is winding down and Forest Park’s four elementary schools are saying farewell to their fifth graders.  Before their ducks leave the nest for the last time, however, the schools gathered together and treated their students to one final day of fresh air and games. 

The fifth grade Field Day has become a rite of passage for students who will go suddenly from strutting the halls as the oldest to wandering them as the youngest. 

Originally scheduled for Thursday but canceled due to inclement weather the Field Day took place on a majestic Friday afternoon, last week.  

The day was divided into two parts.  The morning tested each student’s strength, endurance, agility, speed and flexibility.  The schools’ 100 plus students were divided by homerooms and sent to seven different stations: the shuttle run, the broad jump, the 50 yard dash, the mile run, sit ups, the soft ball throw, and the sit and reach. 

By noon the exhausted children anxiously awaited their lunches to refuel and regroup for the second and more exciting half of the day. 

The game most synonymous with any good Field Day has to be the water balloon toss. The competition, that featured every student, sparked an incredible intensity in what had been a relatively subdued group of fifth graders. 

The game saw over ten tosses, each further and more difficult than the last, before it was whittled down to three lonely teams, all representing different schools. 

The students crowded around cheering and chanting school names at a deafening roar in an attempt to motivate their classmates to victory.  On the last toss only David Johnson and Justin McGrady of Garfield Elementary were left completely dry with a balloon still intact to win the competition.  Johnson and McGrady were then quickly stormed by peers and found themselves on the bottom of a pile of bodies”as if they had just won the World Series. 

“The key was to let the balloon come to you, you have to cradle it,” Johnson said.

He continued to explain that he did not expect to win the competition because he was unsure of his partner’s abilities. 

“I trust him (McGrady) now,” added Johnson. 

Only one event remained but the day was far from over. The event was the tug-of-war and it saw not only the students getting fired up but teachers as well.  In an intense desire to win, one Field Stevenson teacher urged her students not to get too excited about the other matches and to “sit down and rest.” 

That strategy worked because the championship featured both Field Stevenson homerooms, with Mrs. Susan Bogdan’s class emerging victorious. 

The champions were then forced to face-off against the attending faculty.  Just as if they were in the classroom, the teachers showed the students who’s boss leaving them sprawled out on the ground in what was an impressive and decisive victory. 

The event’s co-organizer was Betsy Ross, Grant-White and Garfield’s gym teacher, Jeanne Tyms. 

“It’s a great way to have the kids get together,” said Tyms, who has planned the event for 29 years. “After a day like this they will all be sleeping well tonight, that’s for sure.”