First-time Field Day fun at Sasebo
SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Almost everything done this year by pupils, teachers and staff at Sasebo Elementary School is a “first,” including Field Day 2004, held at the school’s outdoor recreation field Wednesday under cloudless, deep-blue skies.
In a sense, everything’s a first-time experience for the school because it was created last fall when the Ernest J. King Unit School divided into E.J. King High School and Sasebo Elementary School.
Teachers said the school’s first Field Day afforded the 300 kindergarten through sixth-grade pupils an opportunity to burn off some of the energy — and squirminess — that comes from knowing summer break is less than a month away.
Between blowing huge bubbles that shimmered with every color in a rainbow, sixth-grader Kimberley Manalo said she learned a lot this year in Christopher Racek’s class and enjoyed it — well, mostly.
“Science has really been the hardest this year because I just don’t understand all the different types of natural forces,” Kimberley said. “So this Field Day is a great break and a day for just relaxing and having fun.”
Spread across the recreation areas in groups organized according to grade levels, the pupils took part in a variety of relay races, obstacle contests, games such as Bucket Brigade that featured water-related challenges, and the bubble blowing at which Kimberley excelled.
“This is good clean fun at the end of the school year. And in all these games and activities, they actually use most of the skills I’ve worked on with them this year,” said physical education instructor Chris Rheuble, the Field Day coordinator. Every 30 minutes or so, Rheuble set off bullhorn-boosted signals that indicated it was time to rotate and try a different activity.
“Back in the United States, these type of activities are fairly common,” she said. “But we have kids here who have never been involved in an outing like this, just to have fun with their friends and classmates, and maybe even enhance some of their budding social skills.
“We are an American school, even though we are overseas. So these kids should have the same opportunities to experience some of our culture, just like youngsters back in the U.S. There’s lots of common ground today. It’s good to be outside and there’s actually a lot of learning going on here too,” said Rheuble.
Taking a breather from getting her kindergarten pupils ready for the Bucket Brigade competition, knowing they all almost certainly would wind up waterlogged, teacher Amy Sheppard summed up the benefits of creating the separate schools this past fall from the former unit school.
“Things have really been very good all this year. Not that things were bad before, but it’s nice to have a focus on the elementary school, with teacher, principal and staff devoted solely to the elementary grade levels,” Sheppard explained.
“And today is a time for us all to come out here and celebrate the hard work we’ve all done this year. It’s a good time.”