Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

North Ward Elementary

North Ward Elementary: Last dance around the maypole

After a long year filled with the rigors of language arts, math and social studies, one more challenge awaits 10-year-old Jordan Olds.

On the last day of school, she'll pair up with her friend Rachael to lead her fifth-grade classmates in the special dance her school has been known for since the 1920s.

Up and down and back and forth she'll glide, weaving ribbons in an intricate pattern around one of four maypoles on the lawn in front of the school. By the end of the dance, the poles will be transformed into bright bursts of color.

"You have to go in and out like you're making a twist in your hair," Jordan said. "Everybody has to do it right. If somebody messes up, the whole thing messes up."

It may look like child's play, but students take it very seriously, said fifth-grade teacher Wendy Noun, who performed the maypole dance herself when she was a student at North Ward in the early 1980s.

Noun's daughter, Katie, mastered the steps last year when she was a North Ward fifth-grader.

"It's almost like a rite of passage for fifth-graders," Noun said. "It's usually aligned with our spring concert, but we're doing it this year right after fifth-grade graduation."

The news of North Ward's closing hit Noun hard. For the past several years, she has taught in the same classroom where she sat as a student.

"I remember feeling very disappointed, very sad," she said. "We're all very close. If I've ever needed anything, the North Ward staff has been there."

She's looking forward to making one more memory. After Jordan, Rachael and the other fifth-graders take their turn, she plans to join her fellow teachers for one more dance around the maypole.

North Ward Elementary: Last dance around the maypole 05/23/09 [Last modified: Saturday, May 23, 2009 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Police: Uber driver's gun discharges during fight at Adventure Island in Tampa

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — An Uber driver's gun went off Sunday at Adventure Island during a fight between the driver and two passengers.

  2. Baker cautious on Pride politics


    Rick and Joyce Baker strode down Central Avenue Sunday amid rainbow flags, corporate booths, and blaring music of the St. Pete Pride Festival.

    St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Rick Baker chats Sunday with people at the St. Pete Pride Festival. As mayor, Baker did not sign a Pride parade proclamation, but now he says he would.
  3. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.
  4. Lightning among early suitors for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he planned to explore free agency for potential needs, which include bolstering his blue line and adding a wing or two.

    Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who can be a free agent Saturday, counts the Lightning among his early suitors.
  5. Senate leaders try to appease members as support for health bill slips


    WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leaders scrambled Sunday to rally support for their health care bill, even as opposition continued to build outside Congress and two Republican senators questioned whether the bill would be approved this week.

    Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday, is one of the five Republican senators who announced they cannot support the health care bill as drafted.