With the school year winding down, holding outdoor field days aren’t unusual. It gives students a chance to be physical in a not-so-seriously competitive fashion.
Last week’s annual field day at South Minneapolis’ Richard Green Central Elementary, however, had a definite twist this year. May 27 would have been Richard Green’s 80th birthday, and physical education teacher Tonyus Chavers, a former teacher of the year, infused into her lessons, as the students prepared for last Friday, information about the man for whom their school is named.
Richard Green (1936-1989) was born in Arkansas but grew up in Minneapolis after he and his family moved here when he was young. He graduated from Minneapolis Public Schools where later, after graduating from college, he would teach, coach, and eventually serve as district superintendent (1980-88). He was head of New York City schools when he died in 1989 at age 53.
“We wanted to let the kids know not only that he was a great leader,” said Chavers to the MSR, “but also in his early years he was like them and really enjoyed [physical fitness].” The inclement weather last Friday forced the field day indoors as the kids jumped, ran, tumbled and hula-hooped all over the place inside the school gym. The day was noisy, but a good noisy — grades 3-5 in the morning and pre-K through second grade in the afternoon.
“It’s just my second rainout in 25 years,” she recalled.
Rain or not, Chavers said she wasn’t going to call things off last Friday. “Every year not only [do] the kids look forward to this, but the teachers are [also] participating and really enjoy it, too.”
“They don’t mind hard work,” noted the PE teacher as the kids rotated around the gym to designated stations. “This is a two-hour workout.
“It’s fun to see them enjoy themselves,” said Chavers. “It is our time to celebrate the good health of the students. They are really active.”
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Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.