Article and photos by Ray Balogh
NORTH WEBSTER — Dateline: North Webster Elementary School.
The battle engaged at 4 p.m. Thursday, May 28.
A sizable convoy of assault vehicles, disguised as family sedans, SUVs and pickup trucks, rolled along the school’s front drive. Giggling young combatants fired their weapons of choice — squirt guns — from sunroofs and passenger windows at the teachers and administrators lined up along the sidewalk.
The adults, regaled in grass skirts, leis, bathing suits, inflatable life preservers and sunglasses, returned volley with water cannons, refilled from strategically placed buckets.
The warfare raged to the summer sounds of Beach Boys classics such as “Surfin’ U.S.A.,” “Little Deuce Coupe” and “Sloop John B” supplied by
music teacher Matt Pulley from the portable audio system by the school’s front door.
The children, kindergartners through fifth graders, were celebrating would have been their last school day of the year, a day usually feted by water games during the traditional Field Day in the recreational area behind the school.
Plan A was scuttled by the COVID-19 pandemic that shuttered Wawasee schools since March, so the school’s staff conjured the alternative venue for saying summer goodbyes.
“We had seen online a lot of parades through neighborhoods,” said Lee Snider, the school’s principal. “But our families here are reall
y spread around, so I wanted to do a parade here and let folks come through as many times as they want.”
Refilling his water bazooka for an upcoming barrage, Snider added, “and we wanted to add this twist.”
More than 75 parents RSVPed to the school’s Facebook invitation, and many of the attendees proceeded to County Road 750E, circled back and re-engaged combat.
Overseeing the theater of operations from an elevated lifeguard perch was North Webster Elementary School kindergarten teacher Lori Hickman, who is retiring after 19 years with the Wawasee Community School Corporation.
Blinking back tears, she summarized the tender meaning of the exercise. “Today would have been our last day to see the kids in class. This gives a sense of closure. We are so happy to see each other, even at a distance. It’s a chance to say ‘I love, I miss you and have a great summer.’”
Though the two sides were lined up as opponents, the giggles, laughs and waves testified there is only one side, umbrellaed by love and respect: teachers for parents, parents for teachers — and all of them for the children.
Here are some other photos from the event: