Things were really jumping at Greenwood Elementary School on Friday.
During the course of the day, more than 600 students participated in the American Fork school's annual Jump-a-Thon. Whirr, slap and crack filled the air as jump ropes twirled and met the asphalt on the playground. Even preschoolers participated.
Those children and some from the younger grades tried a different approach, laying their ropes on the ground and jumping over them, from side to side.
It was all part of the annual fundraiser for the PTA. The funds will go to get speaker Brad Barton to talk about the magic of making good choices. "He's a magician," said a PTA representative. "Each year the PTA gives the teachers $50 for supplies. We use it for teacher appreciation, to help with field trips and for Mad Scientist."
Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends of the students signed up for pledges to donate money to the PTA, based on the number of jumps their students made during a timed period. Younger children went for a two-minute period, while older ones went for five minutes.
"The person who jumps the most for each whole grade will win a prize," said PTA representative Jennifer Day, chairwoman of the Jump-a-Thon. "Whoever brings in the most money for the whole school will also win a prize. It will be something to help keep them healthy."
Many of the prizes were donated from local businesses, and Day thanked them.
"We are so grateful for those who helped us out," she said.
Physical fitness was one of the goals, but the students were still learning while they were out on the playground.
"The first-grade students did counting for the ones who were jumping," Day said. "They were practicing their math."
Principal Cathy Matheson thanked the PTA, American Fork Hospital and Intermountain Healthcare.
"Intermountain Healthcare is a partner with us in helping the school promote health and wellness," she said. "Through the activity the students benefit from the generosity of American Fork Hospital. They get to keep the jump ropes they use."
Things started out with a kickoff assembly with hospital volunteers coming to the school, talking about fitness and passing out the jump ropes. The students could take them home and had about a week to practice with them before the Jump-a-Thon.
The event was a good idea, Matheson said, to combine fun and fitness.
"For the past three years the PTA has promoted the Jump-a-Thon as a fundraiser for the school and a way to promote health and wellness for our students in the form of jumping rope," she said. "The kids are excited to each have a jump rope. They were donated by IHC and the volunteers at American Fork Hospital."
In addition to fitness and math, the students exercised a different type of skill -- that of expressing thanks.
"As a thank you to American Fork Hospital for the generous donation of the jump ropes, the PTA has the kids sign big 'Thank You' banners," Matheson said. "They learn how to express gratitude for what they have been given."
Not all students could participate in the traditional way. Some are sporting casts on arms, legs or broken collarbones -- all limiting their activity level. One is in a wheelchair.
"We have come up with different activities so they can be a part of this event," Day said.
The student reaction was positive.
Six-year-old Macrae Dyer said, "It was fun. It was pretty good. The fun part was jumping, and I get to take the jump rope home."
Ava Skinner, also 6, agreed.
"It was fun," she said. "My most favorite thing was going backward. I will keep jumping. I am glad to be able to take it home."
Madison Morris, from the sixth grade, said, "It's fun, and it gives us something to do to exercise. It's nice to be out here and have something fun to do with our friends. It's exciting."
"I like the Jump-a-Thon because it's really exciting," sixth-grader Tucker Smith said. "I look forward to it every year. I like to have fun at it. I don't have a jump rope, so when I get one, it's fun."