A race to ‘cool off’ on last day of school


Hoxsie Elementary School was a frenzy of excitement yesterday – the last day of school - complete with a racecar, field day activities and a spray down from the Warwick Fire Department to beat the heat. Field day activities included a sack race, tug of war, water games, parachute play and hoola hoops. However, this field day went above and beyond the typical thanks to special trips from racecar driver and full-time URI student Robert Pelland III and the Warwick Fire Department.

Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) member Melissa Rotondo brought Pelland to Hoxsie for the second year in a row with his racecar to talk about the importance of school and safety.

“He sends a great message to the kids, that it’s not all about fun but school, too. He’s a great role model,” says Principal Gary McCoombs.

Pelland, 19, is a double major in political science and sociology at URI and races at Seekonk Speedway and NASCAR tracks in Connecticut and New Hampshire. The Cranston native explained the connection between education and racing and how he uses math to weigh his car and writing skills to log details on car performance for the crew. He also said that engineering classes are required for NASCAR.

Pelland also spoke about safety, which is especially important at high speeds and the safety features in a racecar including five seatbelts, helmets and shoulder supports. The students were very enthusiastic with their questions and even wanted to see the car driven, which is actually illegal on city streets. Pelland was at the school all day interacting with the kids, giving out autographed pictures, signing shirts and inspiring the students with his driven personality.

Amidst the multiple activities simultaneously occurring, another special surprise rolled in for the students. Just before the beating sun became unbearable, the Warwick Fire Department arrived to unravel a big fire hose as the students screamed “shoot it, shoot it.” The powerful hose sprayed water high into the air, cooling everyone down.

“It was epic!” exclaimed third grader Michael Tatarian.

This surprise was set up by the principal after getting the idea from Norwood School, which received a visit from the fire department on Friday. The parents are very supportive of McCoombs and his dedication to the kids.

“He’s the best principal, he loves these kids and everything is about the kids. He’s a really nice and happy man and has the best conflict resolution style I’ve ever seen,” said Hoxsie mother and PTO member Peggy Mulvey.


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