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Back to School BBQ

For me, the first sign that the school year is truly underway is when we all have our first real large gathering – teachers, parents, and students alike. There are many parts of the BBQ I really enjoy – catching up with parents in the line-up, watching the students run around with their preschool siblings, and seeing the teachers mix among the parents. The whole atmosphere is fun, and it’s one of those times when the St. Edmund’s Community connectedness is tangible.

However, there is one aspect of the Back to School BBQ I ‘look forward’ to with mixed feelings, and that is the ‘dunk tank’. I have to admit, I love to see the excitement on the students’ faces when I change into my gym shorts and t-shirt, and start making my way over to the tank. However, when the chill hits my legs, I start to remember the cold that is coming. I don’t know if anyone has ever jumped into a pool that’s been filled with a hose on a Fall afternoon, but it’s as cold as any lake.

When you climb up on that ladder, and take my place on that tiny seat, I need to lean forward and hold the fence rails to balance myself. This is what I did my first year, and a habit I’ve kept up ever since. I have to admit, sitting there in my shorts, toes trailing in the cold water, watching all these students scream their lungs out, I do kind of wish I wore a suit that day and say ‘Hey, I’d love to go in the dunk tank, but I’m in a suit!’.

Then the fun starts! It’s normally the Grade 6 & 7’s that are up first. It’s funny, but it’s at that moment when it suddenly occurs to me that they’ve transformed over the summer from little kids to athletic teenagers. Some of the boys appear to throw harder than I can! Normally by the third student, someone has hit the target. The problem is not when someone actually hits the target – it’s actually when someone throws and bounces the ball off the top of the circle. You flinch, fully expecting to be dunked, but nothing happens. It’s only takes a couple of those to make me a jangle of nerves! Anyway, after 15 minutes or so, someone does hit the target, and you go into the water. It’s sudden enough that you are actually submerged, and it is COLD! Again, water straight from the hose is as cold as any lake I’ve ever been in!

After the older students have their run, it’s the younger students turn. If you think that is where you can relax, you are wrong! They are allowed to stand closer, and there are at least as many ‘near misses’ where the ball bounces off the target. There is also the ‘fun tradition’ where a younger student that misses repeatedly is permitted to storm past the line and hit the lever by hand!

While I am whining about it, the truth is it’s very flattering for all the students to want to have a laugh with me (at least, I think it is WITH me)! The whole event is something that brings you closer to students and parents, and gets the year off to a great start.