Field day for Soto
Though retirement banners were up, fixture Dario Soto gets re-certified to teach until 88, hosts annual field day
May 23, 2018
A whistle blast starts the balloon busting event and another game in the annual Mr. Soto Elk Mountain Elementary School (EMES) and Medicine Bow Elementary School (MBES) Field Day.
The competition has balloons taped to the shoes of the students who are placed in a circle of cones. If a student leaves the circle, they are disqualified. The child with one remaining balloon wins. The balloons are taped in such a way, there is no danger to the feet, but the game creates laughter along with foot coordination useful in soccer, football and basketball.
Dario Soto, physical education teacher for EMES and MBES said it is about letting children feel improvement and gain confidence.
Only bad weather can prevent this gathering of the two schools as it did last year. Even then, although Elk Mountain students had to stay away, Soto, had the field day for MBES students.
This year he was happy to have both schools compete.
The field day has exercises with specific purposes. Jumping rope teaches eye and hand coordination, jumping over hula hoops trains them on depth perception and the balance beam gets them confidents with height, equilibrium, stability, footing and steadiness.
Karen Patton, recent winner of Wyoming nurse of the year, was at the event watching the proceedings.
"I have been here for 19 years and I have attended every one," Patton said. "The communities and kids love him. He is very old school and has every kid's respect because he is."
Soto grew up in Pine Bluffs where he was born and after graduating high school joined the U.S. Navy. Upon leaving the navy, he went to University of Wyoming, graduated with a teaching degree for social studies and a minor in physical education. He started his teaching career at Ft. Laramie lasting three years and then he came to Medicine Bow. He has been in the town since.
Soto taught kindergarten to seniors in high school in northern Carbon County from 1967 to present. He had winning teams in basketball and football at Bow Basin High School and adult residents who grew up in the three communities of Elk Mountain, Hanna and Medicine Bow speak reverently of this P.E. teacher.
Soto retired in 1993 but after two years he found himself coming back to help the Medicine Bow elementary as a substitute. The next thing Soto knew, Elk Mountain and Medicine Bow elementary schools needed a P.E. teacher and the Carbon County School no 2 (CCSD2) district asked him to take the position. He has been teaching the schools since.
"Mr. Soto has been teaching generations of kids," Lorin Young, recently retired head of maintenance for all the northern CCSD2 said. "The person who retired before me, Harry George, had Mr. Soto as a teacher."
Soto is going to be doing this for a few more years. He recently got re-certified to teach until 2023.
"He will be 88 when his certification ends," Courtney Priest, secretary for MBES said.
Once the field day was over, Soto had a smile on his face.
"We had a good time and I was glad Elk Mountain could make it this year," Soto said.
"The best is many of these kids do things they didn't know they could before coming to this field day and this is what this event is all about."
Patton had an astute observation on why Soto keeps going on and on.
"The kids need him to learn all the lessons he teaches about sports and even life," Patton said. "And he in return keeps young giving all those lessons."
"He is 83 and just keeps going," Priest said. "He is just pure inspiration."