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Not just jumping around

Beaded ropes slapped rapped and thwacked against the gym floor. Jump, hop ... jump, hop ... jump hop, the children’s feet kept rhythm with the rope.

There were turners, jumpers and cheerers at Cottonwood Elementary’s jump-a-thon Wednesday and Friday to raise money for the school’s P.E. program. For one-hour blocks, from 9:15 a.m. to about 2 p.m., students jumped rope. They flocked to the long ropes, which Navy volunteers turned.

“It’s been a blast. It’s good to see all the energy the kids have,” said Earl Johnson, sonar technician, first class for the submarine USS Alaska. He and members of the submarine’s crew spent the majority of Wednesday and Friday helping students jump their way to unicycles.

“That double dutch is hard,” he said with a laugh.

Students had the option of collecting pledges that will go to the purchase of a unicycle set and other P.E. equipment. Students who gathered the most money had their choice of prizes including a Raleigh bicycle. Gail Smith, P.E. specialist for the school, said the community’s support was evident in the amount of prizes donated.

Jumping rope requires coordination, rhythm, teamwork and belief in yourself, Smith said.

“We’re having fun,” said third-grader Steven Canale. He practices jumping rope at home with his mom.

Wal-mart has donated a matching grant to Cottonwood. In addition, more than 30 local merchants graciously donated prizes for the Jump-A-Thon including a bicycle from Silverdale Cyclery and a one-month family membership at the Bremerton Tennis and Athletic Club.

Jumping rope for a cause is nothing new at Cottonwood. In past years students have participated in Jump Rope for Heart and jumped rope to raised money for a student who eventually lost her fight to leukemia.

The unicycles cost about $65 each and are used to teach students a variety of skills Smith said. A group of students districtwide show their abilities by riding in the Whaling Days parade each year.

“It takes teamwork to help spot people so even if they can’t (operate a unicycle) themselves, they can help someone succeed,” Smith said.

The unicycle also tests a student’s patience. It takes about nine hours of practice before new riders can cross the distance of the gym floor Smith said.

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