MERIDEN — Lincoln Middle School students, parents and faculty looked forward to hosting the school’s first field day in three years and were willing to endure heat or rain.
However, they didn’t foresee poor air quality, which ultimately ended the outdoor event several hours after it began and moved students back inside.
But from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., only administrators were watching the cloudy skies and listening to air-quality reports.
“It’s not bothering me today, but it bothered me yesterday,” said one sixth-grader with asthma, as she waited in line to dunk teacher Christiano Chavez.
After months of fundraising, students were treated to popcorn, cotton candy, snow cones, a huge inflatable obstacle course, field games, a giant Connect 4, and minute-to-win-it games.
“We haven't been able to have a field day in three years due to COVID and the kids are so excited,” said eighth-grade teacher Olivia Cosker. “Each grade has one of their own teachers in the dunking booth. The line has been all the way to the back of the school.”
Principal Jim Flynn was supervising for crowd control and watched the weather alerts while acknowledging conditions were expected to worsen in the afternoon. As of the morning, the guidance from school administrators and public health officials was nothing too strenuous, and make health care personnel available to students with difficulty.
At 12:30 p.m. Lincoln Middle School nurses Cecily Finkle and Tania Collado said they had no respiratory complaints from students or any warnings from health officials.
But none of that mattered to sixth-grader Jolen Valentin who didn’t feel much like dunking his teacher.
“I had a very nice walk and watched people struggle in tug of war,” Jolen said. “It’s better than a regular day.”
The field day was put together through a variety of fundraisers and vendor donations, said PTO president Christine Santos. “They’re having a blast,” Santos said. “They’re not phased at all, and it’s not blazing hot.”
The event was also supposed to include a display of the students spelling out the LMS initials on the middle school field that didn’t happen.
Sixth-grader Kendall Datchuck and her gaggle of friends sat on the sidewalk armed with chalk. The goal was to saturate a spot, place your palms in it and transfer your handprint to your arms and legs, ‘because it’s fun,” Kendall said. As they colored and spread chalk they talked about their friend’s birthday tomorrow and their upcoming trip to Mountain Mist day camp where they will play basketball and swim.
Wednesday’s event was a way to relax with friends, they said, as they scampered off to get snow cones.
An hour later, Kendall and her classmates were back indoors.