Dad’s day to play

October 7, 2008

By Christopher Huber

Fathers join their students on the Cascade Ridge playground for a look at recess activities  

Chuck Blondino (right) kneels as he waits to get back in the game of wall ball during the Dads’ Play Day. By Christopher Huber

Chuck Blondino (right) kneels as he waits to get back in the game of wall ball during the Dads’ Play Day. By Christopher Huber

About 30 fathers had arrived by the end of the first recess Oct. 3 at Cascade Ridge Elementary School.

As a few of them signed in, a handful of them had already been to recess with their fourth- or fifth-graders and were now experiencing the wound-up crush of humanity downstairs in the lunchroom. 

For the first time this fall, fathers — and some mothers and grandparents — got to visit their children at recess and lunch at the school for Dads’ Play Day. The PTSA-sponsored event is in its second year at Cascade Ridge and is scheduled for the first Friday of each month throughout the school year, said parent organizer Lynette Springborn.

“Our turnout has been absolutely spectacular,” she said. “They come in their work clothes and it’s just a really great event.”

Even on a slow day last year, Springborn said, 60 dads would show up for the play day.

As they poured out of the building and onto the playground this time, students tugged on their dads’ hands and led them to their favorite place to play. 

Sammamish resident David Bunnel played handball with his daughters, fourth-grader Annika and fifth-grader Britta, for a while, until Annika took him to her favorite place on the field. 

It was a time for fathers to visit and meet their students’ friends. Many parents came during their lunch hour. David Bunnel took the day off from work to attend. 

“They’ve been trying to get me here for a long time,” he said. “So, I took a vacation day and did it.” 

He said the play day is a great idea, because the more parents are involved, the healthier a school is. 

It boils down to getting students’ male role models to spend time with them, Springborn said. 

“The idea is to make it simple and fun for the dads out there,” she said.

Sammamish resident Chuck Blondino spent the entire 25-minute recess playing handball with his son, fifth-grader Charlie Blondino. As the game began, Chuck Blondino got a crash course in how to play. He stood in line, as focused on the ball as Charlie’s friends, until his turn came to smack the ball against the wall. 

“I’ve never seen so many kids play wall ball,” Chuck Blondino reminisced. “I never did this before.”

He has coached some of Charlie’s friends in basketball, so it was nice to see them in a different setting, he said. 

As he works from home, Chuck Blondino was able to take his lunch break to come play.

“He just came,” Charlie said. “I didn’t even know he was coming. He just surprised me.” 

The next play day at Cascade Ridge is Nov. 7.

Reach Reporter Christopher Huber at 392-6434, ext. 242, or at chuber@isspress.com.

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