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Havin’ a field day
Students still enjoy year-end activity
field day 2
Students compete in tug of war during the recent Coal Mountain Elementary School field day. - photo by Jim Dean

The halls of Coal Mountain Elementary School were quiet.

The interactive white boards, computers and other electronic teaching tools sat idle.

But outside, students, parents and teachers were having a field day.

“This is fun because you can be with your friends and you can run around and be outside instead of doing school work,” said fifth-grader Kate Ware.

While many things may have changed in education over the years, the time-honored tradition of field day remains a popular end-of-school-year activity for Forsyth County’s elementary schools.

On this particular day, the Coal Mountain campus was filled with children bouncing, spilling cups of water and competing in relay races.

But the field day was about more than just fun and games.

“We’re also being educated at each station because we get one good fact and then at the end, we have this big test and they quiz us on what we learned,” said third-grader Alex Gonzalez.

“We’re learning a lot of sportsmanship ... we always have to be a team if you want to get first place.”

The Peace, Love & U.S.A. Field Day took Coal Mountain students to various activity stations, each representing a different state or landmark.

There was the Land of Lincoln, hula hooping in Hawaii and several snack stations.

Third-grader Mary Moore said the popsicles were her favorite treat, while the best part of the day was getting soaked at the water activities.

While stations had a competitive aspect, Moore said she learned the student's “don’t have to win."

"You can lose too and still be awesome,” she said.

The classrooms may be technology driven, but fifth-grade teacher Barbara Gerald said her students “are still kids, they still love to play outside.”

“It’s a day where the students get to come outside and exhibit the skills they’ve been learning in their physical education classes all year long,” she said. “It’s a break from the everyday [routine], but they’re still learning.”

Fifth-graders Tucker Daniel and Sydney Mitchell both said they would rather spend a day outside than playing games indoors.

“You get to run around and you toss stuff and it’s a lot of fun,” said Mitchell, who plays soccer.

Daniel, a three-sport athlete, enjoys video games, but said he would "rather be out here because you’re with your friends.”

It’s the children’s love of field day that also draws parents to volunteer.

“We love volunteering to watch them have fun,” Hope Gravitt said.

Added Brandi Buffington: “This is what [the students] look forward to at the end of each year. After testing and everything, this is their release.”

Like a recent fitness challenge fundraiser, Gravitt said field day gets the children outside and engaged in being healthy.

“It’s very important to us as a school so we can give them the learning skills of how to be active and healthy as they grow up and take that on with them,” she said. “Hopefully, this will be important to them as they grow up.”