“Thar She Blows!!” Whale Sighted at Parkview Elementary School


Take about 60 fifth graders, several hundred feet of black plastic sheeting, a few rolls of tape, some scissors, lots of patience and a couple of box fans and you’ve got your afternoon cut out for you. 

Linda Groat, Kevin Mahan and Todd Marriott from the Division of Parks and Wildlife, plus fifth grade teachers at Parkview Elementary School in Lamar, built a 100 foot whale this past Monday, May 20. 

Working from some plans provided by Groat’s contemporaries in the DP&W, and probably making some of it up as they went along…rolls of plastic sheeting were laid out on the school’s front yard and put together bit by bit, using tape to baste the crucial sections together. 

Once the pattern was set and the two main pieces taped together, students sealed the jet black leviathan into an air tight whale tube and added air supplied by some box fans and Mother Nature.

Whoops!  Yes, it was also a windy Monday, and the kids got a quick lesson in aerodynamics as the whale, filled almost to the brim with air, got swept up momentarily in the northerly breezes.  It would have gotten away from them too, except it was surrounded by some 60 kids, who let out some yells and giggles and then pounced.

The whale sported the real dimensions of a sea going Moby Dick, complete with fins and a tail.  Although there were no Ahab’s in the group, there were a lot of Jonahs or Pinocchio’s, as youngsters, under the supervision of their teachers, got escorted inside the whale while it was still blown up.  Thanks to the efforts of Parkview teachers and volunteers from the Division of Parks and Wildlife, the conversation at the evening dinner table on, “And what did you do in school today?” took on a new life of its own.

By Russ Baldwin

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