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May 21, 2014

Toad carries the day at annual frog races

DUNCAN — Mark Twain Elementary’s annual frog races had to allow toads into the festivities this year because of the drought.

As a result, the frog races quickly turned into toad races, with a toad winning the event.

This was the 13th year for the races.

 The ongoing drought apparently contributed to a significant decrease in available frogs, so the school decided not to enforce its plans to exclude toads.

 But the tradition of the winning teacher planting a kiss on the winning frog remained unchange -- except for the fact the winner was a toad.

The winning teacher, Lisa Thacker, made sure all the students got a good look at her planting a kiss on her toad by turning around a circle to show all.

“It was the best animated toad kiss I’ve ever seen,” teacher Dana Jackson said.

Having taught for 28 years at Mark Twain, Thacker has won the annual races three or four times.

Thacker described her experience with the toad as “slimy,” noting she didn’t know the toad’s history or where he came from.

The frog/toad races were set up in a bracket with teachers’ frogs and toads going head to head. The first creature to escape a circle drawn in the grass won and moved up the bracket.

The teacher with the winning jumper earned the right to kiss the frog (or toad).

 Emerson speech counselor J.R. Hoyt and Jackson’s teenage daughter Allie Jackson were on hand during the races to encourage the frogs and toads to move by spraying them with water.

The frog racing event is based on the school’s mascot, the frog, and has become a tradition for the school every May.

 Each time a teacher’s frog wins a round in the races, the teacher’s class wins a prize.

Thacker won this year’s grand prize, which included a bucket filled with toys (including plush frogs) and other items, which were shared with her students.

 Thacker declined to put on fresh lipstick for her kiss, which lasted several seconds. She said the highlight of winning was the reaction of her students.

“It feel great when your children cheer you on,” Thacker said.

 The school’s namesake, the writer Mark Twain, achieved his success in 1865 with the publication of  his short story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.”


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