The annual tradition known as Water Day at Horizon Community Learning Center is anticipated by students as a final, fun goodbye to the school year.

But the teacher’s also use it as an opportunity to teach students about being safe in the hot Arizona summer months.

Horizon’s Water Day started 13 years ago when one teacher was asked by his students if they could dump a bucket of water on him. He obliged and got an idea to continue it, albeit in a more organized manner.

“The kids got in a water fight and I thought it was a good idea so we did something more concrete the next year,” physical education teacher Matt Mixer said. “Now we make it a fun and safe last day for the kids.”

All Horizon elementary school students had about 30 minutes on Tuesday to do outside activities that, yes, included getting their teachers wet.

Principal Laura Wanstreet said that Horizon has a policy that they don’t teach P.E. outside when the temperature climbs over 100 degrees. Water Day is an exception to the rule, she said, and it works because they teach the kids about being “sun wise” throughout the year and leading up to water day.

“This is a fun way to be outside for awhile,” she said.

“We do things like give them points for wearing hats and putting on sunscreen before they go outside,” Mixer said. “We talk about why they should do that because Arizona is a place to be responsible in the sun.”

He called it a “final bonding time” between the teachers and their students as the school year winds down. While Wednesday is the actual last day of school for elementary school students at Horizon, most view Tuesday as the last official day. In addition to the teachers, parent volunteers come out to help supervise the final, fun event.

“It goes well beyond P.E.,” Mixer said. “It’s a good way to say goodbye and integrates more of the community.”

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