BAR HARBOR — Field days are a beloved spring tradition in elementary schools.
The schools won’t be able to hold them this year, so coaches Bryan Dionne and Alex Johnson teamed up to create a virtual track and field meet that they hope will capture some of the same excitement.
“Normally on a field day, there’s a sense of friendly competition,” Dionne, who’s a PE and health teacher at Conners Emerson School, told the Islander.
“Each of our schools does it a little differently,” but the common themes are “pride in your school, being outside, laughing with your friends.”
Often students are divided into large teams to play traditional games like tug of war. They are encouraged to make lots of noise with chants or cheers.
Inspired by a virtual track meet organized last month by Mount Desert Island High School track coach Aaron Long, Dionne and Johnson organized the virtual track meet to take place this week, May 26-30.
It’s open to all students in MDI Regional School System schools in kindergarten through eighth
grade. To participate, students email Johnson, who’s the head coach of the district’s combined middle school track team, at [email protected]
“We decided to go all the way down to kindergarten, and added a couple events,” Dionne said. “We wanted to include everyone in getting active and getting outside.”
For students in kindergarten through fourth grade, there’s a 50-meter sprint and standing broad jump. Both are simple to do and require zero equipment, except for tools to measure distance and time.
Dionne describes the standing broad jump this way: “Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, squat down, and jump in front of you as far as you can go. You throw your arms in front of you—the arms are initiating the movement.”
For the older kids, in fifth through eighth grade, there’s a 100-meter dash, 1-mile run, shot put, discus and long jump. Students expressing interest in the throwing events will receive instructions on how to modify a Frisbee to use as a discus, and what kind of rocks to look for to use in the shot put.
While the students won’t be able to cheer each other on in person, the organizers are asking the students to send photos of themselves doing the events.
“We’ll share those with the schools so kids can see themselves and their friends,” Dionne said.