by Lisa Tome
James Ritchie used to be what he calls a "fast guy."
In 1988, three times a week, he faithfully turned out at Merryland Roller Rink just over the Maryland-Delaware state line for roller skating.
"Back then, you'd plow into a girl and then pretend you were hurt. That's how you'd meet them. That was your pick up line," laughed Ritchie.
He was back on eight wheels again last week. This time as a married father who was skating with his Rising Sun Middle School sixth grader.
"They never skated when I went here. I do think it's important to get kids moving. More parents need to try this," Ritchie said.
Every year at the conclusion of the skating unit, Rising Sun Middle hosts parents and students for a skate night. The event is held in the school gym and music is played.
"There is lots of enthusiasm here. Ninety-nine percent of them love the skate unit. It's become kind of a community event," said Physical Education teacher Jim Boyd.
Shawn Keene was skating with his daughter. "I used to skate. This is really cool. This and Street Lamp (Productions) are really good for the kids," said Keene.
Parents Chris Hayes and Rebecca Currier were spectators early on. "I don't skate and I didn't grow up skating," said Hayes. Currier said her child asked her not to take to the floor. Later, her son changed his mind and Currier tied on skates. "He knows I can skate and doesn't want me to show him up," said Currier. "But this is the first gym activity that he really liked and felt he did well with."
Sixth grader Emma Walden likes skating. "The skate unit is a good thing to have. Everybody gets a chance to skate," said Walden.
Tara Keene said her daughter is also enthused about skating. "It's been 30 years since I skated. We skated 30 years ago during my senior class trip. My daughter hasn't stopped talked about skating," said Keene.
Michael Brannan attended with his daughter, a sixth grader. "I think it's cool. They should hold it more than once a year," said Brannan, who opted not to skate.