Waugh Chapel Elementary School pulled off an annual field day June 7 thanks to P.E. teacher Michael Santacroce, part-time P.E. teacher Joe Adriani and over 100 parent volunteers.
Early Thursday morning over 600 children wiggled and whispered as they sat outside in anticipation. When the bull horn sounded at 9:30am, the school grounds were suddenly filled with an explosion of screams, cheers, movement, laughter and smiles that continued for the next two and a half hours.
There were 28 activity stations for the 28 classes of students. Activities included lacrosse, hockey, football and t-ball and five water-based activities. There was also a large parachute, an inflated slide and inflatable soccer balls students could get inside. They moved by crawling on their hands and knees.
Each class stayed together at every station, however students were divided into four teams in each class by the colors of their t-shirts: blue, green, red and yellow. The teams were necessary for organizational purposes and for the sports stations such as lacrosse and football.
When Julie Maine’s fourth grade class participated in the tug-of-war, the girls barely broke a sweat dragging their male classmates across the line to win.
“It feels great to beat the boys. It’s awesome.” said Alice Strawn, age 10.
With a special needs student in her class, Maine applauded Santacroce’s efforts to create a field day with events for students of every level.
“I really appreciate that,” Maine said.
WCES music teacher Amy Kennelly was blown away by this year’s field day.
“I’ve never seen so many stations in my life,” Kennelly said. “When I was in school we had the ‘Olympics’ and it was only three stations. It’s nuts how much work went into this [field day].”
Classes switched stations every six minutes. They were given instructions from a parent volunteer at each station.
In the ‘Waugh Chapel Iditarod’ each team pulled a single student in a sled across the grass, sometimes aided by a parent. Volunteer Howard Meinster, father of first grader Olivia, led the Iditarod station with as much enthusiasm and energy as the kids.
“I like to help,” he said. “The best part is watching the kids laughing and having fun and exercising is a bonus.”
Each class enjoyed the parachute station. Multiple activities were done with parachute, but the children particularly liked the final activity titled ‘cat and mouse.’ During ‘cat and mouse’ one student would be under the parachute with another on top. The classmates holding the parachute would shake it sharply making the ‘cat’ crawl around the moving parachute on top to find the elusive ‘mouse’ crawling below.
“I liked the water stations the best,” said fifth grader Addison Weist, age 11.
While the purpose of many of the water stations was for teams to race to fill buckets with as much water as possible using everything from sponges to gallon Ziploc bags, several students took the opportunity to soak their friends.
“[Santacroce’s] done an amazing job again,” said J.J. Grollman whose children Jerimi and Jayden are in first and second grade. “I’ve been attending field day now for three years and it’s just been amazing. He’s worked hard. He’s just an amazing guy. [He] is my kids gym teacher and my kids can’t stop talking about him.”
Adriani credits Santacroce for the success of field day.
“Mike did all the work. He did it all,” Adriani said. “It’s well organized. This is his baby. Without the parents it could be a struggle but they make it easy. Mike is a passionate teacher. He’s all about the kids and getting them moving.”
Santacroce said this is his favorite day of the year with his students.
“I’ve always tried to make it a special day that brings the community together. I’m so blessed to have the support of the community and the 100 plus parent volunteers. The way I run our field day, it would be impossible to pull off without parent support.”
In the three days prior to field day, Santacroce said he was at school preparing from 7:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
Santacroce believes field day is important as it lets kids be kids.
“Today’s culture seems to be pressuring kids more and more,” he said. “When I began teaching 19 years ago, Kindergarten was a half day with a nap and recess [included]. Now Kindergarten is full-day with a 20-minute recess. I believe we should have field day more often.”
Santacroce takes his job as a P.E. teacher seriously.
“I try to impart on students to love themselves, realize how unique and special they are and the importance of movement every day in some way in order to be the best version of themselves they can be,” he said.
Wild Birds Unlimited in Waugh Chapel will donate proceeds from purchases on Saturday to the International Bird Rescue organization. Baltimore Orioles mascot, “The Bird,” will be on hand noon-1 p.m.
Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company will offer free coffee samples. WBU is open Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at 1304 Main Chapel Way.
The Forum will meet for lunch and a presentation by George Sass at noon June 21 at Osaka’s Grill & Buffet, 1633 Crofton Center. Sass managed an advertising agency with offices in Annapolis, New York and Europe for over 25 years.
After pursuing his passion for boating by taking a year-long 6,000 mile journey through America’s and Canada’s lakes and rivers,Sass returned home and closed his agency to pursue a career as a freelance photographer and writer for the marine industry. For more information, call 410-562-8920.