It’s been far too long since I’ve had a chance to hob nob with the kids at Gig Harbor’s St. Nicholas Catholic School. A few weeks ago, after accepting an invite from staff member Elizabeth Cizin, I drove there to shoot photos of several of the students gathered around the Tacoma Rainiers baseball team’s mascot, Rhubarb. It was a fun experience — but a technicality made my photos unusable.
Then, oh woe, I was unable to accept St. Nicholas’ invitation to join the school’s choir at the Rainiers’ game in Cheney Stadium a few weeks later. They were there to sing the national anthem at the opening ceremonies. From what I’ve heard, they did a bang-up job, evoking tumultuous cheers from everyone in attendance.
Before the game Rhubarb jollied the kids.
To third-grader Kaitlynn Weaver, “Having Rhubarb there was crazy, chaotic and super fun.” Kindergartener Vaughn Shuey claimed, “Rhubarb took Jacob’s milk and almost drank it!” Payton Heim, a first-grader, said, “When Rhubarb was there we got to bang on the lunch tables!”
Second-grader Troy Tackett said, “He was banging on the tables and really wanted some food … and milk. He tried to take people’s chocolate milk!” Classmate Michael Balmer declared, “He was furry. He had REAL Rainiers’ pants on; yeah, and they were kinda dirty. And his horns were upside down! His hat was attached to his fake head AND his eyeballs were blue and kinda big.”
So there you have it, sports fans! Rhubarb the charmer.
Cizin told of how the choir had the honor of singing the national anthem as part of the Rainiers’ pregame festivities.
“The school has hosted family night with the Rainiers for almost 10 years,” she said, “but the choir’s participation in the game was a first. It gave the students an opportunity to put into action the school’s dedication to community service.”
“Emphasis on helping others strengthens character and fosters a sense of pride and responsibility,” Principal Amy Unruh said.
McKenzie Lyman, a first grade student at SNCS and the youngest choir member, talking about her experience preparing to sing the national anthem at the game, said, “I was super nervous, then I wasn’t, then I was again. I practiced singing every morning in bed right after I woke up and I sang duets with my dad in the truck each morning on the way to school.”
Her sisters, Morgan and Kaitlyn Weaver, second- and third-graders, respectively, felt mixed emotions before their performance.
“I was nerv-cited!” said Morgan, which she explained is both nervous and excited at the same time.
Kaitlyn said the “experience taught her the true meaning of the lyrics to our national anthem.”
Hugh McMillan is a longtime freelance writer for the Gateway. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.