DARIEN — Wednesday was a good day for shoe hurling.
Cool weather meant feet didn't get too sweaty, and overcast skies meant you didn't have to squint into the sun.
On Wednesday, Darien Elementary School held its annual field day, an end-of-school event that features a morning of games and silliness.
It's also a day for fifth-graders to demonstrate their leadership skills as they run activity stations such as Frisbee toss, Whiffle ball round up, sack race, three-legged race and the shoe kick.
It was their job to keep the mixed-age teams on task and positive.
Also, poking, teasing, standing too close and running off with equipment were not allowed, and fifth-graders had to enforce those rules, too.
Fifth-grade teacher Lori Thorson said she talks to students before the event about how to manage things.
"I ask them about what their field day experiences were like," Thorson said. "Was it positive? What can they do to help younger kids have a good time?"
Of course, some people are born to be physical education teachers.
Jenna Dangelo, 11, had the students introduce themselves, lined them up with friendly efficiency and let them vote on how they wanted to run the shoe kick. Longest distance? Highest? Most accurate?
She also gave them tips before the event—loosen up those shoe laces—and high fives afterward.
For Darien fifth graders, field day is a moment of glory before a significant life event: the transition to Phoenix Middle School, where they will join students from two other elementary schools.
Diego Nova, 11, said he was worried about getting lost and missing his friends.
Paige Johnson confessed that she was "excited and freaked out" at the same time. The challenge of meeting all those new people was offset by the chance to play more difficult music on the violin.
Nick Armstrong, was also looking forward to signing up for both band and orchestra. He plays bass and is convinced that middle school will include saxophone instruction.
For the younger kids, field day is just another glorious moment before that magic word, "summer."
Aiden Kelly, 7, displayed modest abilities in the shoe-hurling department, but pledged to work on it over the summer. He was wearing white socks with his sneakers.
"I was going to wear black, but my dad said that black was for bears," Kelly said.
Bears like the woodland animals or Bears like the football team?
The football team.
Later, Kelly's buddy from the second grade, Logan Koenig, 8, had to help him get his shoes back on over his non-Bears socks.
What was Koenig doing over the summer?
"I'll have the rest of June to spend with my family," Koenig said. "Then it's right into July and summer school."