MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

May 21, 2010

Hilldale marks last day of school with track meet

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— First-grader Sejin Whittle was fully charged for the last day of school Thursday at Hilldale Lower Elementary School.

And that helped Sejin, who is in an electric wheelchair, win a race against third-grade teacher Veda West with her scooter, and physical education teacher Beth Wells and her unicycle.

“I just tried to win, and I tried to go fast,” Sejin said, waving his blue ribbon about. “I was well-charged and I went fast.”

The race was part of the Hilldale Elementary Track Meet, which capped off the last day of classes at Hilldale. Students, teachers, even support staff members signed their names on friends’ T-shirts and balls.

During the track meets, the Hilldale Upper Elementary gym rocked with noise as kids cheered their classmates through relays, dashes and tugs of war.

“We were supposed to have the track meet last Friday, but it rained. We were supposed to have it outside, but we had to move it inside to make adjustments for the rains,” first-grade teacher Patti Bilyard said. “The last day is normally very sad, but this is a very uplifting way to end the school year. The kids are getting to enjoy themselves and have fun, not worry about not seeing their friends.”

Hilldale Elementary Principal Lance Crawley emceed the track meets. He said Sejin had boasted about his speed.

“All year long, Sejin has been bragging about how fast he was,” Crawley joked. “We are going to take him down today.”

Wells said Sejin had wanted to race West’s scooter all year. She said she had raced Sejin several times on her unicycle and sometimes won.

“If his wheelchair is not fully charged, I can beat him, but I can’t when it’s charged,” she said.

Wells came in second in the race.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.