At some points of the day’s competition, the crowd’s noise level could have rivaled a Hannah Montana concert, but this wasn’t a music festival with 20,000 screaming fans. It was an elementary school field meet and the kids were loud and motivated.
Eight elementary schools from the local area gathered at Pearl City High School’s athletic facility for their annual field meet May 5. As a part of the Adopt-a-School program, 13 Marines and two sailors from U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific came out to support their respective schools of Pearl City Elementary and Palisades Elementary and volunteered their services to assist with the competition.
“The Marines really helped out today and kept the kids moving,” said Susan Hirokane, Pearl City Elementary principal. “The kids made real connections with Marines.”
The students, ranging from fourth to sixth grade, competed in the long jump, softball throw and various sprints and relays. The Marines assisted the judges, kept scores, escorted and motivated the kids before, during and after each event.
“The kids ended up motivating me,” said Sgt. Lavonne Watkins, Electronic Key Management System alternate manager, G-6, MARFORPAC. “Being here brought back memories of when I was their age doing this same thing.”
Points were awarded to each school depending on where each competitor or team finished. For single competitor events, three points were awarded to first place, two for second and one for third. In team competition, four points were awarded to first place, three for second and two for third.
“It feels good to win a race,” said Riggs Napoleon, Pearl City 5th grader, who was the final runner of four that won the 4x200 meter relay. But this competitor didn’t have any overly confident remarks to make after his victory. “I’m just ready to go upstairs and eat.”
In the end, Pearl City Elementary won the overall standings. Momilani Elementary was 2nd and Palisades Elementary came in third. This was Pearl City’s fourth consecutive first place and Palisades jumped five spots from last year. It may not have played a key role, but Pearl City and Palisades both stretched out and warmed up with the Marines before the competition.
“We’re not just war fighters, we’re involved in our community,” said Staff Sgt. Obi Rogers, intelligence analyst and Adopt-a-School Marine coordinator. “We’re role models for the youth of tomorrow. That’s why we were out there.”