Could It Be the Last?
(written for the Fern Ridge Review, June 6, 2011)
By Pat Edwards
Smiles and laughter were in evidence wherever you looked at Lorane Elementary School’s “Spring Fling” last Saturday night, but underlying the gaiety was a sense of sadness, too. Due to budget cuts, the school will close for at least the 2011-2012 school year once the doors swing shut for summer break this month. It was apparent, however, that both young and old were willing to put the sadness aside and fully enjoy the tradition of Lorane’s annual spring event.
The evening began with a dinner served by the Lorane Rebekahs in the school cafeteria. There was plenty of spaghetti and lots of hot dogs, salad and ice-cold lemonade for the hungriest of appetites.
The dinner was followed by a children’s concert directed by Crow-Applegate-Lorane School District’s music director, Pat Dixon. A large turnout filled the bleachers and many lined the walls while enjoying the entertainment.
The 12-member Lorane band played an assortment of tunes and several provided solos on their instruments. The group also turned choir, singing an intro to one of their pieces. The classes also provided skits and songs. Some of the younger students put on a very entertaining skit to the story, “Goodnight Owl” and the sixth graders made their entrance dressed in 80’s clothing and hairstyles. They soon had the large audience rockin’ to Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” while using glow sticks in the darkened gym.
Once the program ended, a long line quickly formed to purchase game tickets and all of the volunteers took their places at the booths in the gymnasium. With tickets in hand, kids rushed to their favorite games – the Fish Pond, Balloon Beanbag Toss, Ring Toss, Bean Bag Throw, Lollipop Tree, Face Painting, Golf and the Goldfish Toss where ping pong balls – not goldfish – were tossed into a bowl of water. If the ping pong ball remained in the bowl, the contestant won a goldfish.
More activities and games were to be found in other areas. For the price of a ticket, you could have your best friend or worst enemy put into the jail for a certain amount of time. To work off excess energy, the little ones had an air-filled bouncing structure. For those with a sweet tooth, there was a cake walk in one of the classrooms. The more literary could take advantage of the Book Fair in the library. One of the biggest draws, however, was the petting zoo provided by Zany Zoo which featured a huge python, a boa, an alligator, a parrot, guinea pigs, a tortoise, a huge monitor lizard and a strange little animal called a Patagonia cavy.
Almost every area of the Lorane School was used for the enjoyment of those attending. Besides the gym and school building, people congregated on the front steps and the playground, enjoying one of the first warm spring days that we’ve had this year.
Parents, grandparents, community members, students, former students, school administrators, teachers and former teachers were in attendance. Handshakes and hugs were shared in abundance. One of the highlights was the arrival of Lorane’s beloved former first grade teacher, Carroll Noel, who retired several years ago.
The covered basketball court was home to live music featuring the Creole and Cajun duo, Swamp Rock, led by fiddler, Kelly Thibodeaux, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Thibodeaux taught Lorane students to play fiddle this year. Also known as Etouffe, the band combined “red hot fiddle, shufflin’ rhythm and blues and kickin’ Southern rock” to create an exciting new sound they call Swamp Rock. They entertained a large number of people for almost two full hours. To add further spice to their music, the band provided bright green crocodile hats to anyone who would get out and dance while they played, and they got a lot of response.
Local organizations were invited to provide information and goodies as part of the Spring Fling event. The tables were set up in the basketball shelter, as well. Information and concessions were available from the Lorane Grange, the Rural Arts Center, , the Lorane P.T.O., the Good News Club, Theta Rho, the Lorane Charter School Committee and the Bread Basket Giveaway Program of the Lorane Christian Church.
As the evening began to wind down, winners of the dozens of raffle prizes were announced. For the past several years, Troy Jentzsch has donated beautiful, handcrafted furniture items. This year he donated a desk and two bookcases. Jim Edwards and the Lorane Family Store donated two $50 gift certificates for gasoline. One of the favorite prizes was an enchanting doll house painstakingly made by Lorane 6th grader, Brandon Overton. Other local donors came through with garden plants and produce, local wines, flower baskets, a book on Lorane history and gift certificates galore. It was a veritable bounty for those who purchased tickets.
Towards the end of the evening, children began cashing in their game tickets at the prize tables and several dozen cakes won at the cake walk were carted out to the cars in the parking lot. Few people left early. It was obviously a time to linger and visit and get acquainted with neighbors. It was a time to appreciate community and living in rural America… a time to put aside differences and enjoy the traditions that we sometimes overlook in our otherwise busy lives. That’s the beauty of community and why we should never lose its essence. Lorane Elementary School, its teachers and its students have been a large part of it and once again, they brought us all together for at least one more time. Thank you