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Rowland Hall students celebrate school year's end with flair

Published June 14, 2012 11:01 am

Color Day • Decades-old tradition morphs from competition to flash mob.
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Students dressed in a rainbow of T-shirts danced in a choreographed flash mob to the song "Chihuahua" by DJ BoBo to kick off Rowland Hall's annual Color Day.

Physical education teacher Anna "Anna Banana" Ernst led the students, teachers and parents in the activity.

Color Day is the annual end-of-year celebration Rowland Hall students enjoy on one of their last days of school. Students get to slip out of their normal uniforms and wear shirts they made, such as the third-graders who wore shirts featuring the birds they have studied while sixth-graders made tie-dyed shirts.

"This is the most fun day," said Lee Rech, mother of two enrolled at Rowland Hall. Rech danced as she pointed out her 10-year-old daughter, Louise, dancing among her classmates.

The music continued as students dispersed to 19 different activity stations set up around the campus and run by parent volunteers.

"Today is really fun," said third-grader Matayah Morgan. "[We get to] be loose and have fun."

Pat Ammon, now a retired PE teacher, started morphing the year-end celebration in 1981. Originally, it was a track meet at nearby Westminster College.

"I said to myself, 'There are three children getting ribbons and then the rest of the kids are crying,'" she said.

So, it evolved from a competition to a celebration.

Ammon was on campus Tuesday to volunteer for the event.

"It's my baby," Ammon said.

Similarly, two of the school's PE teachers, Ernst and Marsha Harmon, have devoted their time to continue developing Color Day for the students.

"It started 30 to 40 years ago. We've perfected it over the years," Ernst said as she explained that kicking off the event with a group dance began three years ago and "it became a hit" when it developed into a flash mob.

Harmon, who choreographed the dance, said that every time the students had PE class for a two-month period, they would learn and practice the dance along with other aerobic activities and games.

Harmon, who has taught at the school for 24 years, said that the kids themselves are the best part of teaching.

"[With] their energy, they brighten my day," Harmon said.

Indeed, exuberant children swarmed every station placed around the Rowland Hall campus on Guardsman Way.

Kids flipped plastic frogs off of miniature teeter-totters, danced to the music, and despite the high winds and cloud cover, slung drenched sponges at one another in a playful fight on the school's front yard.

The sponge fight was popular among students, as it is every year, said Rowland Hall teachers.

Third grader A.J. Langone cited the sponge fight and popsicles as his favorite parts of the day.

Kathy Adams, who has shifted from teaching at the school to working in its public relations and marketing department, recalled her first impression of the school upon deciding to enroll her two children.

"All the kids were in their uniforms…but were such a mess and were so happy," said Adams. "There is a sense of joy here… [I said] this is where I want my kids to go."