There are no winners or losers during Field Day at Frontier Elementary School. There is also no dodgeball, which has traditionally allowed athletic students to pummel the not-so-athletic students with round objects.
“You don’t use your students at targets. It’s not a kind thing,” said gym teacher Marami Abbadessa.
Instead, Abbadessa orchestrates stations of hula hoop, jump rope and a game that resembled lacrosse that involved scooping up balls and tossing them in the air for other students to catch during the school’s recent Field Day.
She doesn’t divide kids up into teams and announce an overall winner either. “If you had fun, you won,” she said. Skeptics of this philosophy usually ask Abbadessa about the necessity of teaching competition.
“We all want to be winners. You don’t really need to teach it; it’s there,” she said.
Abbadessa, who on Field Day wore whistle earrings that really work, said the annual event is also a good way to get kids outside.
Some parents attended the Field Day. Teresa Triphahn said she liked seeing her 7-year-old son interact in an environment different than home. “I’m not bragging as a parent, but he’s good at everything he does,” Triphahn said.
She added that not a lot of children live in the family’s neighborhood, and so days like Field Day are nice because of the social interaction it provides, “just getting out and playing with the kids.”
Abbadessa said many of the activities she chooses focus on teamwork and collaboration — important social skills to learn.
Not announcing winners relieves the pressure of needing to be the best or fastest, and allows the students to focus on fun.
“We’re trying to make them comfortable,” Abbadessa said. The teacher’s get outside philosophy extends to the morning walk and jog activity she offers. Before school, students can earn points by walking or jogging laps around the school yard. Each lap equals one point, which allows students to claim equipment like jump ropes during recess.
The first Field Day, last Thursday, was for kindergartners through second-graders. Third- through fifth-graders participated in Friday’s Field Day.
Abbadessa said she splits the days up based on developmental skills. Games like team handball, which involves two teams attempting to score with a ball, offer more complexity to challenge the older students.