Downtown and Goshen Campuses Have a “Field Day”!

Two-Campus Field DayBy Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus and Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

This Tuesday brought one of our most fun events of the year – our Two-Campus Field Day, held at Goshen. With our two campuses 20 miles apart, our students don’t get to interact together nearly as much as we wish they could, and this event brings them together in a fun-filled (and wacky!) way. After a delicious picnic cookout of hamburgers, brats, and hot dogs courtesy of Chef Matt and his incredible crew, and an opportunity for our 4th and 9th grade penpals to meet one another, our JK – 12th grade students banded together in groups with various grade levels mixed together. Each group had an animal name with a tall sign to match to keep them together. Thus, Goats, Turkeys, Bees, Hedgehogs, Pandas, Zebras, Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches, and more parade around the campus (many in costume or make-up!) doing fun activities and games together. A group of teachers designed the activities this year, and we decided to branch out and include more activities than team-building games. Our kids rotated every 20 minutes and moved from stations inside (“Just Dance!”), to the play shelter (creating a Mandala art mural together), to team-building games on the soccer field, and finally to the track for field games. This was where we were both stationed and got to watch all ages work together in tug-of-war, sack races (their different techniques were fascinating!), and everyone’s favorite – a water balloon toss! The little ones were particularly adorable during the water balloon toss – they would approach us and say “My balloon broke so I need a new one” and it was difficult to have the heart to explain to them that the balloon breaking is when the game ends! Admittedly, we handed out more than a few “second-chance” balloons.

Article Image Field Day_1What we noticed this year was a heightened sense of camaraderie among the kids. As we’ve now done this three times, it gets better every year, and everyone knows what to expect. It was touching to see the kids during the unstructured times hanging out together. Many Middle School and High School kids played basketball together on the sport court and had a ball (literally and figuratively!). More than one Lower Schooler managed to hitch a piggyback ride from a High Schooler in their group. The students clearly enjoy seeing each other and there is a palpable nostalgia as the older students look back in fondness at their “youth,” while the littler ones are in awe of the “big kids.” It helps us to be one school – and Wyverns (as opposed to cockroaches!).

We also wanted to share with you what we did on our Professional Development afternoon on Wednesday. After students dismissed, the Downtown faculty traveled to Goshen for discussion around three articles selected by our Director of Diversity, Kisha Watts (who is also our Downtown Campus Admissions Director). Related to the book all faculty and staff read this summer, Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?, the articles were “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh, “What White Children Need to Know About Race” by Ali Michael, and “What Happens When Minority Kids Are Taught Not to Talk About Race” by Jesse Singal. We had small-group discussion about the articles, talking about the importance of open communication, recognizing privilege, and working with students on issues that are really complex. Our commitment as a school is to having these hard conversations, to not shying away from the difficult moments, because we believe that within the St. Francis community, we have a real (and perhaps rare) opportunity to talk openly and honestly with one another, living out a few of our core values in particular: inclusivity, community, thought, openness, and expression. Our Professional Development day in January (right before students come back) will continue this work, as we are led in sessions with Crissy Caceres, Assistant Head of School and head of the Office of Diversity and Equity at Georgetown Day School.