Wheeler students, staff, faculty, families, and alumni celebrated our community and school spirit on May 13, when Founder’s Day and Field Day were held on the same day, for the first time ever.
When the pandemic posed transportation challenges for this year’s events, which have traditionally been held on the Friday and Saturday around school founder Mary C. Wheeler’s birthday, current Wheeler leadership saw it as an opportunity to reimagine what was possible in a single day. During her opening speech, Head of School Allison Gaines Pell P’23, P’25 thanked supporters and organizers alike for their “hard work, creativity, and flexibility.” She called the combination of Founder’s and Field Day the perfect combination to celebrate Miss Wheeler’s legacy.
“You all likely know that Mary was responsible for our mission, telling students by a fire one evening that our school would ensure that each of them would learn their powers and be answerable to their use,” she said. ”But she also reminds us that school should be a place where connections to our larger world are as vital as the inner life of the school’s program. And so it goes today, that we work to benefit our souls and our community through service in the morning, and our bodies and minds in the afternoon for joy and good natured competition.”
The day began with a colorful celebration on both of Wheeler’s campuses, as Lower, Middle, and Upper School students alike drew vibrant artwork outside with chalk. Students repped their Wheeler spirit as well as their Purple and Gold teams for that afternoon’s Field Day.
Wheeler students, faculty, and staff then headed out for Founder’s Day service projects. Middle Schoolers and 9th- and 10-graders worked at parks across Providence, where they cleared brush, picked up trash, mulched soil, picked weeds, repainted fences and railings, and various other tasks, while our 11th- and 12-graders led activities for Lower School students at the Farm.
In the early afternoon, everyone gathered at the Farm for the transition to Wheeler’s 108th Field Day, which began with the opening march led by Athletic Association leadership, Color Captains, and Wheeler alumni. Following the welcoming remarks from Head of School Gaines Pell and the singing of the national anthem, students competed in the traditional Purple and Gold relay race (Purple won in the girls race and Gold in the boys) before each division separated to different fields for more competitive fun. Activities included mainstays like tug-of-war, a variety of relay races, dodgeball, an obstacle course, and capture-the-flag.
If the excitement and smiles shown throughout the full day of friendly competition, community, and celebration were any indication, the new Founder’s Day and Field Day structure may be here to stay.