Graduating Senior Falcons Make a Splash - TribPapers

Graduating Senior Falcons Make a Splash

West Henderson seniors sliding downhill are, left to right: Softball standouts Mellany Garcia and Camryn Smith, and Caroline Stachura. They scream for joy when sliding down a steep, suds-slicked banner, down a steep hill on campus. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

Mills River – West graduating seniors finished their fun afternoon on campus last Thursday, May 18. There was a burger cook-out, “spike ball” and other sporting events on the athletic field, then the recent tradition of a “slip ‘n slide” down a steep hill by the football practice field.

Henderson County Public Schools’ seniors graduate on Friday, June 9. East Henderson’s senior picnic/field day is June 2. North Henderson frolics in Jackson Park on June 8. On Friday morning, June 9, Hendersonville Bearcats have the awards and “Move-Up” ceremony.

Relaxing Respite

Several baseball and other Falcon athletes said they felt refreshed ahead of their next contest, by unwinding to close that school day. It was an appreciated break from daily practices or games. The timing was ideal for two Falcon squads that both won again. Hours after the field day, the Lady Falcons won their second-round soccer match 3-1. The next night, baseball Falcons won 5-4 in round four to advance to the 3A West Region finals for the first time since West won it all in 1992.

The West Henderson Class of ‘23 slides down en masse. Leading them, in front, are West teachers Matthew Parent at left and Vanessa Price (laughing, in blue shirt) at right. Photo by Pete Zamplas.
The West Henderson Class of ‘23 slides down en masse. Leading them, in front, are West teachers Matthew Parent at left and Vanessa Price (laughing, in blue shirt) at right. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

West’s Student Government Association chose last Thursday for their field day instead of ending the week with it. They could not stage it the next day, which was reserved for HCPS-wide “senior walk-throughs.” Graduating high school seniors wear caps and gowns and visit their elementary schools. Those visits are “inspiring for younger students,” West principal Luke Manuel said.

West’s annual, fun “slip ‘n slide” debuted in 2017-19. It was scrapped during the COVID main outbreak in 2020-21 to avoid close interaction, resumed in 2022, and was held again last week.

‘Inner Child’

Manuel, West Class of 1995, said, “The kids enjoy it.” Softball ace pitcher Mellany Garcia observed, “We get to release our ‘inner child.’ It’s fun!” Soccer midfielder Tatum Brennan noted that such shared frolic provides lasting memories of classmates who go back to elementary school.

Students were so eager to slide that they began several minutes before the planned 1 p.m. start. Most slid several times for an hour or so. Most slid feet-first, some head-first. Soccer star Julian Martin was among a handful of boys whose long running start propelled extra sliding velocity. Teachers Matthew Parent and Vanessa Price led a very enthusiastic group slide.

Assistant principals Justin Heatherly and Whitney Ashbrook, Price, and Parent organized and supervised the field day. They got a huge, donated commercial banner with thick plastic. It is sturdier than the tarp used before, for a more cushioned and less bumpy descent.

To keep the banner slide slick, an Etowah Fire Department firefighter kept dousing it with water and teacher Parent added dishwasher soap suds. This time, there was less suds and less eye stinging than before, and no watery and sudsy landing pond.

The water level on the banner was enough for fun splashing. Splashed students’ expressions varied from apprehension to cheerful screaming.