Inside the sweltering West Central Elementary School gym Friday, the deafening chant of, “Let’s go teachers, let’s go,” was shouted by students as foam balls flew across the gym in a final match of coneball.
The variation of dodgeball pitted teachers against sixth-graders as the last moments of the school year passed. Eventually the teachers prevailed in knocking the remaining ball off the top of an orange cone, and the students outlining the court abruptly reached a decibel that significantly outmatched their chant as they converged on members of the winning team.
The school’s field day brought students together for musical chairs, tug of war and balloon pop, but the final event of the day is where much of the focus was drawn.
“We take it very seriously around here,” said McKensey Wheeler, a fifth-grade teacher.
Participating in a game where students had the opportunity to heave objects at teachers on the last day of school produced some concerns from third-grade teacher Ashleigh Vaughn.
“I’m going to hide from some of the older kids,” she said. “They’ll be headhunting some of us, maybe.”
Vaughn and her fellow teachers will have three days of post-planning next week, but she said Friday’s activities were a fitting end to the year.
“They’ve been ready for field day all week,” she said.
Some teachers relished knowing they weren’t going to have to teach summer school, like fifth-grade teacher Stephanie Dean, who is the school’s teacher of the year.
Dean said there was some crying throughout the day Friday, as some of her students she taught this year, she also taught in fourth grade.
“Some of these kids I want to take home with me,” she said.
Both Vaughn and Dean said despite not having to work over the summer, they’ll be a different kind of busy, as they stay at home to take care of their own children.
While some students were looking forward to next year, others just wanted to get out.
Marleysia White, a rising sixth-grader, said she hopes to make good grades in her final year at West Central.
Juliana Washington, also a rising sixth-grader, responded, “Oh, yes,” when asked if she was ready for school to end. She plans to travel to Miami in June. Jakiya Winston shared Washington’s sentiment about the fifth grade ending.
Emori Branch said before he comes back as a sixth-grader, he is going to enjoy the upcoming summer camps.
What the rising sixth-graders didn’t mention was how they plan to avenge the sixth-graders’ coneball loss.