By Dawn M Chiossi
School Field Days are fun. Getting out to enjoy, exercising, burning off energy, and showing off the skills and games they learned in Physical Education class, showing off what they can do. Many people out there remember them, yet some school districts now don’t even have them on the calendar.
They may very well be a thing of the past, if not for the efforts of West Orange Resident Anthony Conzentino, along with coworkers Alexa DeRose and Steve Gerard who is setting up a GoFundMe page in order to raise money for Paterson students in preschool to the 5th grade to have a field day. Conzentino has been teaching in Paterson for the past three years.
The field day is slated to be held on June 5th at the East Side High School football field. This is the second year that they have been sponsoring the Field Day for the students–Something that Conzentino hopes to create every year. Of the $5,000 goal, so far the GoFundMe Page has raised $1,795 for this great event.
In just the one month since it was formed, the campaign is trending positively, and according to Conzentino feedback has been amazing. “Our goal is to raise money so that each student can receive a T shirt and other equipment to make field day a huge success,” he says.
For Conzentino and the rest of his coworkers, it’s all about giving back, paying it forward and inspiring these kids by giving them the kind of field day he himself remembers from his youth. “As a kid I had field day every year, and once the weather got nicer, you knew it was right around the corner. I remember practicing the games in gym class and how great of a day it was and how much fun I had every year. I wanted to bring it full circle to my students.” Describing how his school district in Paterson is an urban district and low income, he says, “Most of our students do not have the opportunity to be part of any organized sports or be a part of a team–which is why the main focuses this year were sportsmanship, teamwork, character development and respect. These students are at a disadvantage and they have many obstacles in life. The more the Physical Education department can give back, the better.”
According to Conzentino, this event is the culmination of everything they have learned in their Physical Education program and also to reward the students for their hard work and progress. “The events really allow the students to work as a team, focus on controlling their emotions, and at the end of the day, being a kid and have fun.”
Events planned will be fitness-based obstacle courses, fitness-based team games, (rock, paper, scissors, shoot hopscotch, relay races, water balloon toss) and cooperative games (hula hoop pass, sponge race)
He states that the response from everyone at large has been overwhelmingly supportive, and so willing to help, whether it is from donating, sharing the links, or as in the case of last year, other teachers arrived early and stayed late to clean up and created classroom tshirts with their homeroom to help. “This year together, we raised enough money to give each student a shirt,” he says. “This may not seem like much, but it’s our way to give back, to show our unity as a school, our pride, and our will to make this school a better place. I am very humbled by the fact that so many people, family, friends, friends of friends, even people I don’t know reached out to help.”
In talking to Conzentino, it is easy to see his enthusiasm for his job and his caring for his students, “My hope is that the entire school can come together in the spirit of competition, for the students to show off the skills they learned in class, and demonstrate what it means to be a great teammate, leader, and have great sportsmanship. I am not interested in winners or losers on this day, I’m looking for each student to trust themselves and respect their fellow classmates.”
Regarding the field day he adds; “I hope that these kids are happy and excited. I hope it inspires the students to step out of their comfort zone, or to challenge themselves to dedicate themselves more to having a healthy lifestyle, be part of a team, eat healthy and exercise. I hope it inspires them to know that they can all be leaders, teammates, and the importance of respecting everyone how they want to be respected. These aspects of life can be intimidating; the physical education department believes that through sport and competition these aspects can be developed, and field day is a culmination of that.”