Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Argus Observes -- Perils of spring for high school seniors

The Argus Observes By Don Lynch
From the May 13, 1954 issue of The Ontario Argus-Observer

News stories this week have made me glad to be a country editor rather than a high school principal.

A fatal accident on the Nampa senior sneak day and subsequent action of the school board there to abolish the annual senior outing brought back to me painful memories of an accident on a student outing ten years ago when I was principal at Roswell high school in Idaho.

With a student body of fifty we lacked athletic resources and so we’d had a terrible year in school sports. Lost all of our football games, most of basketball; but we had won about half of our baseball games and the kids were proud of finally doing something in sports.

We had a wet spring in 1944 and we had a lot of cancelled baseball games but they were finally all made up except for one game with Marsing.

The game day game, a beautiful May day like we’ve been having this week, and we excused all of the students who wanted to go to the game.

Most of the players and many of the students including a number of girls piled into the back of a farm truck early in the afternoon and left for Marsing.

Agnes (this columnist’s wife who taught at Roswell high) and I stayed with the pupils who remained in classes. It was a warm, drowsy afternoon. We settled down to just marking time until the end of the day.

The team had only been gone a few minutes when the first dazed victims began to stumble in. Agnes met the first of them in the hall

She came running. “Don, the kids have had a wreck.”

I refused to believe it. But when I saw them I realized with considerable shock that it was true.

The effervescent load of youngsters had shifted the truck off balance on a curve a mile from the schoolhouse. It had flipped off the road, smashed through a fence and turned over in a field.

Our wartime Red Cross first aid training paid off that day. We filled our beds and davenport with youngsters suffering from shock and minor injuries. We improvised a stretcher for a boy who apparently had a serious back injury. We carefully transported the injured to a doctor’s office.

I’d have treated myself for shock if we’d had the time. That was about the most unnerving day I ever put in.

However we were lucky. The youngsters all recovered fine except for one girl who had trouble with a leg injury for a considerable time after the accident.

We forfeited the ball game. It was too late and we were too hurt to play it….

In addition to this year’s fatal accident, Nampa’s problem was further complicated by a student beer drinking riot that wrecked some private party at McCall on the senior sneak a year ago. Although it involved a relatively few people it embarrassed and humiliated the entire class, the school and the community.

The Nampa school board has my sympathy. I hope abolishing the senior sneak day solves their problem. But it won’t be easy. Seniors are capable of being pretty headstrong and defiant, especially if they think that they are being treated as youngsters

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