SPRING HILL — The Fox Chapel Middle School eighth-graders made squishy sounds as they walked down the sidewalk outside their school. Just about everyone was wet — students, teachers, even the school resource officer.
The students, those who had not received discipline write-ups during the last grading period, were being rewarded with a very soggy field day. They enjoyed a blow-up water slide, an obstacle course and tug-and-dunk, a kind of tug-of-war and basketball game combined.
The school took advantage of a nice hill to provide another slippery slide, and around the corner, school resource officer Deputy Jeff Swartz was being soaked in a dunk tank. At the end of one field, a firefighter at the top of a fully extended ladder was spraying and cooling off the delighted students as they danced below.
Eighth-grade American history teacher Magen Schlechter, who coordinated the event, thanked the fire department for participating.
"They're building them up for their positive behavior," Schlechter said.
And she said she was appreciative of Swartz and Deputy Rose Dejesus for taking turns being dunked.
"It's my first year with these kids and my last year with these kids," Swartz said, referring to the eighth-graders moving on to high school. "I'd like to show them I don't have to be the enforcer all the time."
Dejesus agreed and said students need to feel comfortable around deputies.
"You want to interact with them at a positive level," she said.
Near the dunk tank, hamburgers and hot dogs were being grilled.
Schlechter mentioned the efforts to raise money to make the event possible.
"We're putting this day on with lots and lots of fundraisers and parent donations," she said.
Bobby Collett, 14, said he particularly enjoyed the fire truck water spray. He suggested why the school put on the event.
"It's nearly the end of the year, and they just want to thank us for being excellent students," he said.
Randie Eaves, 14, also liked the fire engine and agreed with Bobby.
They were given a fun day "to repay us for all the hard work we've done," she said."
The students had various favorite activities. Theresa Frattini, 14, liked the slide on the hill, as did Caitlyn Manas, 13.
Kayla Rifenburgh, 14, liked another, less damp, option.
"The obstacle course, because there were a lot of unexpected cracks and crevices, and it was fun," she said.
Caitlyn and Kayla will be heading to different high schools in a few months and recognized that the field day was a way to enjoy their school mates one last time. Caitlyn is going to Springstead High School, while Kayla will be attending Nature Coast Technical High.
"I'm sad, but I'm looking forward to meeting new people," Kayla said.
"I'm going to miss people," Caitlyn said. "But I'm looking forward to high school."