One of the highlights each year for our Middle and Upper Schoolers is Field Day. A popular Derby tradition that started over sixty years ago, this event brings together Grades 4-8 for about four hours of outdoor games every May – as students with face paint, colorful banners, bright decorated team shirts and spiked hair have tremendous fun participating in a wide array of “track and field-type” events. The focus and emphasis of Field Day is on friendly competition and having fun. It is accurate to say that our oldest students pay somewhat close attention to records set years ago in events such as the hurdles or long jump; and that each spirit team hopes that they will garner the most points at the end of the events to be the winner. But when we all get to 1:00 pm, with an ice cream or popsicle in hand, and a slight sunburn if one hasn’t applied enough sunscreen, all of us in the Derby community feel just a little bit closer.
Here a brief history on Field Day, as well as some details you might be interested on this school tradition, particularly if you are a Grade 4 family or one new to Derby this year:
- The first Field Day was held over sixty years ago in 1953, when the boys competed and the Darks spirit team won. Two years later, in 1955, the girls participated in Field Day, with the Toppers coming out “on top.” Of note, the winning spirit team and the name of their captain is recorded on a large, engraved wooden plaque located in the Lewis Dining Hall.
- Derby had four spirit teams. The two teams for the boys are the Lights and Darks – named after the light and dark shades of blue represented in the Academy’s school colors. The girls also have two teams: the Derbies and Toppers. The name “Derbies” is derived, of course, from the School’s name. The name “Topper” was most likely chosen to cleverly match up with the term “Derbie”, as both are types of traditional hats.
- Spirit teams are “all in the family,” so to speak. A third grader rising to Grade 4 with older siblings at Derby, past of present, will automatically be assigned to the same team. In addition, the Lights are paired with the Toppers and the Darks with the Derbies – in terms of affiliation. This means, for example, that if an older sister is a Topper and her younger brother is entering fourth grade, he will be a Light.
- Captains, along with Assistant Captains, for each spirit team are chosen each fall by our eighth graders. These are some of the prized leadership positions our oldest students look forward to holding when they reach Grade 8 (along with being elected an officer of our Upper School Student Council, for example).
- Here are this year’s Spirit Team leaders: Lights – Taalib Dibinga-Robinson (Captain) and Isaac Sadhwani (Assistant Captain); Darks – Jared Arevian (Captain) and Owen Forman (Assistant Captain); Derbies – Emma Bradley (Captain) and Lexi Dewire (Assistant Captain); Toppers – Kate Rowe (Captain) and Brony Jensen (Assistant Captain).
- There is a wide variety of events for Field Day, most which our girls and boys both do, but there also some events that only one each gender competes in. Both girls and boys participate in the following: hurdles, 50 and 100 yard dash, cross country run, obstacle course, running or standing board jump, softball throw, sack race, and group shuttle runs with baton. In addition, the girls compete in the lacrosse run (Grades 4 and 5) or run and shoot (Grades 6-8), and the three-legged spoon ball carry. The boys have additional longer races of 250 and 400 yards.
- Ribbons are awarded to students taking first, send or third place in their events.
- The culminating event at the end of Field Day – which occurs around 12:45 pm – is the tug of war. Spirit teams match up against each other on the lower athletic field for this exciting, often nail-biting finale, with student and parent spectators, seated or standing on the hill, cheering on both sides.
- Parents are very welcome to join us as spectators at Field Day! It is wonderful way to be part of community and watch your son or daughter participate in this fun Derby tradition. The first events begin around 9:00 a.m.