Dan Rattiner's Stories

Springs School’s Eighth Grade Beach Day Tradition Ends

Nobody has ever died on Beach Day. What was different this year?

Springs School has canceled Beach Day. A friend of mine with a daughter in the eighth grade told me about it. Beach Day has been a tradition for at least half a century.

A few days before graduation in June—high school is next—the teachers take the students to Main Beach for a day of fun. As it’s a school day, it’s something the kids remember for the rest of their lives.

“I had Beach Day,” my friend said. “I wanted to be able to share Beach Day with my daughter.”

“Why did they cancel it?”

“My daughter said she thought it had something to do with insurance. I don’t know. It was going to come up at a school board meeting and she was so upset, she wanted me to take her to it so she could speak up. It was last Monday.”

“What happened?”

“It wasn’t about insurance at all. The school board explained it. It was about safety. The problem was, as they told us, there are big waves. There are flies at the beach. Kids could get sunburned. Or cancer. They could get abducted or victimized by child molesters.”

“Our beach?”

“They said that when the sea is involved you need to have a ratio of 1 teacher to 25 kids. We don’t have that.”

All the parents and kids who came to this school board meeting were aghast that Beach Day was being canceled. They spoke up. This is a beach town. The kids have been going to the beach all their lives. Nobody has ever died on Beach Day. What was different?

The new Springs Superintendent, Deborah Winter, late of Center Island School District, told them the ocean was different. How it is different, she didn’t say.

“And NOBODY’s in the water,” my friend said. “It’s June. The water temperature is 60°. So why the 1 to 25 rule? Anyway, many of these kids are junior lifeguards. My daughter is one.”

Several of my kids went to the Springs School. They are all grown now. I texted my daughter
in San Francisco about this. She wrote back about her daughter Solange, who is 16, raised in San Francisco.

“I can’t believe that this is happening in Springs. Solange’s class goes to the bay under the Golden Gate Bridge at some obscure campsite where they spend the night and swim and do all sorts of things, and their stuff is gone through by raccoons. And we have not even signed a waiver.”

I still live in Springs. I talked to a local woman I know. She too was amazed to hear Beach Day was canceled. She went to Beach Day in eighth grade back in the 1990s.

“Nobody goes in the water,” she said. “Mostly, it’s about the boys looking at the girls in bathing suits. What’s the big deal?”

Albert's Landing Beach
Albert’s Landing Beach

Yes, things can go wrong. She told me about a Beach Day that Springs School held at Albert’s Landing Beach last year for the third grade. Her son is a third grader. She was there. This is a bay beach, tiny waves. One of the other kids stepped on a board that had a nail in it.

“The teachers did nothing. They’re not allowed to touch a kid. We mothers took care of it. Thank goodness we were there.”

I called Eric Casale, the principal at the Springs School. He told me it was true about eighth grade Beach Day being canceled.

“It’s primarily about safety. For instance, a teacher is not permitted to put suntan lotion on a kid. This is a lot of eighth graders. And who knows what could happen to them at the beach. Just keeping track of them is a considerable concern. There have been incidents which I can’t get into. We’re going to beef up other events around graduation, but they’ll all be on campus. We’re doing the best that we can. Things are not what they used to be.”

Whoever heard of kids in a beach town being told they can’t go to the beach?

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