“I've never seen so many smiles in one place.”
Smiles were certainly in abundance all around on Wednesday, as the Anderson County Special Education Cooperative hosted its first-ever field day event for students in the six school districts that it services — Westwood, Frankston, Elkhart, Cayuga, Neches and Slocum.
The inaugural track and field event took place at in the Frankston High School gymnasium and at the Jeff and Opal Austin Stadium with an estimated 75 students participating in events like the 50- and 100-meter dash, tricycle races, team events and more.
The threat of bad weather led event organizers to begin the event indoors, with olympic-style opening ceremonies that allowed schools to enter carrying a torch and banner stating their school name. Participants also donned t-shirts in their school's colors.
Field events were held in the gymnasium — a tennis ball throw, frisbee throw, long jump and kicking, with balloon artist Mark Kilsby on hand at that time to make inflated swords, hats and more for participants.
The clouds soon parted, bringing the event outside to the stadium track where Frankston Middle School cheerleaders lined to race way to cheer on the athletes. While not quite at capacity, the stadium stands also included a good representation of fans — parents, teachers and the like — to cheer as well.
The Frankston High School band also took its place in the stands to provide musical inspiration for attendees.
According to ACSEC Director Debbie Gazaway, the field day began as the “hair-brained” idea of a teacher, who was interested in seeing an event like this be offered to the students.
“We started thinking about it and then got backing from a former superintendent,” Gazaway said. “Then Marc Chitty, a Frankston coach and Life Skills paraprofessional, joined forces with another coach and teacher Josh Gilbert to make the field day happen.