High school seniors celebrated their last day of school with water balloon fights, parties and by continuing a famous tradition know as the pond jump.
At St. Amant, the seniors turned the parking lot into a war zone as water-filled balloons were hurled throughout the morning.
Across the parish, East Ascension High graduating seniors put on their swim suits, grabbed various flotation devices and jumped in the pond across the street from the school just minutes after completing the last test of their high school careers.
Legend has it the EA pond jump tradition originated when a few senior boys jumped in the pond on then-Ascension Parish Hospital grounds. It was a spontaneous, unorganized ritual until the early 1970s, most people believe, when it was outlawed over liability concerns because the pond was on private property. So the jump was just legend through most of the 1970s and 1980s.
In the mid-1990s, then-Gonzales Police Chief Bill Landry teamed with school officials to add safety measures.
They’ve been leaping into the murky waters ever since.
The hospital was demolished earlier this year.
The senior tradition at St. Amant High School has evolved over the years, Principal Mia Edwards said.
Edwards said current teachers, who are alumni of the school, tell tales of past classes showing up on the last day of school in “the most outlandish mode of transportation.”
“Students were coming to school on tractors, three-wheelers, horses, trailers etc. to see who could out do the others in garnering the most attention,” she said.
Presumably, as the area became more populated and traffic became more dense, authorities became concerned of the possible road hazards and asked that this tradition be curtailed. Students were encouraged not to come to school in any type of transportation that was not “street legal.”
This led to students coming to school in decorated trucks with blaring music.
In an attempt to out-do the previous class, students turned the beds of their pickups into swimming pools, Edwards said.
“Of course, this evolved into the water-slinging, balloon-throwing, water-gun wars that we have today,” she said.
Shaving cream was added a few years ago to kick it up a notch. The St. Amant Volunteer Fire Department joined in the festivities this year when firefighters hosed down the mess and seniors.
The festivities began at 5 a.m. and ended a few hours later when students got out of their wet clothing after the water fight to take their last test or attend their last class.