By Tim Leeds
A Havre May Day tradition came to an end Monday.
Highland Park Elementary School students dropped off May baskets full of candy and flowers, then tried to run away before they were caught.
Betty Roush, second-grade teacher at the school, has been doing this celebration for her students for the last 37 years. She said she only has one stipulation: since she can't chase all of her students at once, after they drop off their baskets she chases them around her house one at a time.
Their reward is a kiss from Roush, leaving a bright red pair of lips on their cheek from the lipstick she applies before each chase.
Roush said she started the tradition with her class because she likes to celebrate holidays.
"I just like holidays, like to celebrate," she said. "It seemed like the thing to do."
They made baskets to bring the flowers or treats at the school, but the students can bring their own baskets if they wish, Roush said.
The celebration runs from 4 to 6 p.m., with students arriving during the whole period, Roush said. She said pretty much all of her students show up for the event every year. She said if parents can't bring their children they usually find a ride from siblings or neighbors.
Jaymee Schmidt, whose son Zachary was one of the students Roush chased, said he remembers doing this 20 years ago.
"The bright red lipstick I remember that," he said.
The students this year commented on Roush's celebration, and her ability to chase them.
"She is really, really, really fast," said student Demi Billy.
Roush said this will be her last year celebrating with her students. She announced her retirement this year, after 39 years with the Havre Public School System.
She said she has scaled things down a bit over the years. She said she used to chase them around her house three times, but she would only be able to do that with a couple of students now. She said she doesn't think she could chase fifth-graders much at all.
The celebration is based on an old English May Day tradition. On May 1, children would drop off May baskets full of flowers, then run away. Roush said she revived it here in Havre because she just wanted to bring another holiday celebration for her students.