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School's out for summer
By MIKE FERGUSON
Of the Baker City Herald
Here's a last day of school quiz for Baker 5J's elementary school students.
Would you rather spend that final day:
(a) Ridding your stuffed desk of the many worksheets you've completed over the past nine months,
(b) Settling up your accounts in the cafeteria and library, hoping you'll have enough money left over in one to pay the other, or
(c) Watching a native Hawaiian who's been student teaching at your school perform a breath-taking Polynesian fire dance?
Third year Brooklyn Principal Gary Timms figured most of his students would select "c," and so he allowed Eastern Oregon University student teacher Avory Abordonado to twirl lighted sticks around in the school and dance in the transfixing style his forebears have shown for generations.
"Somebody asked whether he would light the sticks on fire, and I admit I was a little hesitant" to authorize the performance, Timms said. "But he did a great job, and the students really enjoyed it."
After the dance and an awards ceremony in which students enjoyed a musical PowerPoint presentation starring themselves, Brooklyn students scarfed down hot dogs and dessert before witnessing the traditional fifth grade versus staff softball game.
"They've got 31 players, so they all figure any ball hit in between them belongs to the other guy," Timms said before the contest. "I feel confident we'll take them."
For the record, the faculty and staff topped the students, 7-2, in a game called after two innings to dismiss students on time.
Athletics was also the entertainment of choice at North Baker, where students participated in their annual Field Day. They competed in at least a half-dozen fun events, including leaping around a a course with the handicap of a potato sack around your legs and flipping flying discs into a small net target.
The most laugh-producing event was the one volunteers dubbed the "Giant Ball Soccer Game." Older students were made to perform the crab walk, then kick the ball forward into a goal designated by cones. The newly-purchased inflatable ball is the size of a typical second-grader.
The awkward crab-walk position "has led to a lot of scoreless ties," noted volunteer Tom Averett.
Younger students were allowed to stand up; that led to spirited tug-of-war skirmishes that rather resembled a rugby scrum.
But standing, unlike crab-walking, produced higher-scoring contests, said volunteer Ginger Savage.
South Baker's last day celebration was more traditional to a point. Baker Police Officer Jay Lohner awarded Eddie the Eagle stuffed animal and coloring book prizes to poster design contest winners Christina Calder, Grade 1, and Melissa Clarke, a fifth-grader.
"I drew a picture of Eddie the Eagle sitting in a tree out looking for trouble," Calder said. "He finds someone trying to touch a gun, so he tells them to go home and tell a grown-up about it."
Eddie the Eagle is the mascot of the National Rifle Association's gun safety curriculum, which the organization provides free to school districts. His four-part message about what children should do if they find a gun (or anything else that looks like it could be dangerous, Lohner said) can be summarized as Stop, Don't touch, Leave the area, and Tell an adult.
Even though they learned the message almost four months ago, students had no problem reciting Eddie's message on a cue from Lohner.
South Baker Principal Pat Braswell presented awards for scholarly achievement as well as excellence in citizenship. Sixth-grader Christopher Prince received a three-year perfect attendance award.
"I just never get sick," he said. "I like showing up every day for Mr. (Tom) Busey's class. There's always something fun to learn, especially math. I just want to keep learning."
His mother, Candis, attributed his streak and his good health to drinking large quantities of milk up to five gallons in two weeks by himself.
After the awards came the nontraditional portion of the assembly and it was led by the students. Eighteen groups of them put together skits, songs and dance routines, which were judged by a panel of community members.
Acts ranged from a dance set to Rednex' "Cotton Eye Joe," performed by Andrea Wilson and Savannah Daly, to a "So You Want to Win a Million Dollars" sketch by Desi Cookson, Stacy Duman and Erin Burgess.
After the fun, Braswell said, it was off the playground to eat lunch. Then came the moment of reckoning, when teachers passed out the final report cards.