Of the Baker City Herald

Students at all of the schools in the 5J School District celebrated the last day of school Wednesday with games, treats and activities instead of hitting the books to the bitter end.

Each school, with the assistance of their respective parent teacher organizations, exercised the childrens bodies instead of their minds.

At Brooklyn Elementary, students ran sack races, spoon andamp; water races, three-legged and wheelbarrow races, shot hoops and spit sunflower seeds at a bucket target.

The games were organized by PTO President Lisa Birkmaier. They were just games I remember doing as a child. Theyre all fun. There were a few scraped knees and a few tears but all the children seemed to be having a good time.

Birkmaiers organization is helping the school fund new playground equipment. They held a fund-raising taco feed this year and will have the annual fund-raising wrapping paper sale this fall. Whatever they earn will be used to purchase new equipment.

Gary Timms, principal at Brooklyn, said students from first through third grades were on the field during the morning break and would be followed by the fourth and fifth graders later.

Timms said the schools he has taught in over the past 12 years have always had different final day activities, but he found that Brooklyns field day games were just way more fun.

While the races burned up excess energy, the hoop shoot was a game of skill. Each child got several attempts at making a basket. During the session two students tied for the winner, Darlene White and a boy named Matthew. Darlene said the games were lots of fun. Her friend, Melissa Van Horn, agreed. Melissa claims to have the meanest grandmother in Baker City, Patty Jo. At least, her T shirt says so.

The students werent the only ones having fun, according to third grade teacher Bonnie Gast.

Im having a ball, she said.

She has been teaching for 12 years and enjoys the final field day events.

Were cleaning up the classrooms also and the students worked right up to the last full day (Tuesday) of school this year. This is a good way to keep them busy on the last day, Gast added.

Perhaps the most unusual game at the field day was sunflower seed spitting. Students lined up in two rows and spit seeds into a five-gallon bucket or at least tried to hit the bucket.

The contest was dreamed up several years ago by former Brooklyn janitor, Janice Dole, who must have cleaned many a pile of forbidden sunflower seed shells out of classrooms over the years. Gast said the sport was especially attractive because the students were not permitted to spit or eat sunflower seeds during the school year.

The kids just love the game, she said.

Crossing guards

Principal Timms added his staff is actively looking for more people to volunteer as crossing guards to help ensure the safety of all the children when they hit the sidewalks in the morning and afternoon.

Presently, Brooklyn has three faithful crossing guards, but ideally, Timms wants at least 15 volunteers so that each one only needs to volunteer one day a week to the cause. If anyone is interested in becoming a crossing guard they can call the school at 523-6488 and leave a voice mail message.

Timms said being a crossing guard was a good way for parents and grandparents to support their children and the schools at the same time.