As Platteview High School senior Eric Carlson stepped up to the plate, he knew he had a challenge ahead of him.
Should he hit the ball into the obvious gap into right field or go ahead and give the opposing team an easy out? After all, they were only first-graders.
Carlson had some time to play with the first-grade students on a recent Friday. Any junior or senior who participates in a fall activity was given the opportunity to go back to Westmont or Springfield Elementary Schools to eat lunch with the younger students and play outside during recess.
“I think it just builds community,” Springfield Principal Wes Reed said.
Platteview High School Principal Angela Simpson echoed the idea, saying that the four-year-old tradition allows high school students to share the experience of homecoming spirit week with the younger students.
“It’s just something fun to do homecoming week to make it about everybody, not just the high school,” she said.
She said she started it at the Springfield Platteview Community School District after having experienced it at other districts where she has worked.
Simpson said it provides a two-way benefit for the elementary students and the high school students.
“It kind of works out in two ways as the kids look up to the (high school) students as heroes, and the teenagers get to learn to be heroes,” Simpson said.
And the high school students agree.
“I do feel like a role model,” Carlson said.
This was his second year returning to Springfield Elementary, and he said it was something he looked forward to.
“I think it’s a great way to come to the kids, brings excitement,” he said.
Junior Abbie Scholting said she feels a bit like a role model to the younger children.
She admitted she was nervous at first. But once she saw how good the kids were, she was confident it wouldn’t be too hard.
“Right now they seem like a great group of kids, and we brought good people, too,” she said.
After sharing a lunch, the high school and elementary students took to the playground, playing kickball, keep away or taking turns doing cartwheels.
Once the recess bell rang, elementary students returned to their desks, while the juniors and seniors rushed off to a recess of their own: the homecoming pep rally.