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Elementary students jump to the top

By Staff | Nov 9, 2012

Members of the Jumping Juice Boxes pose with the school's trophy for earning funds for the American Heart Association. From left, front row are George Struthers, Bubbie Figgins and Zachary Poindexter. Back row are Joe Anderson, Logan McLemore and Isaac Kessler.

Students at Shepherdstown Elementary School were notified this week that their efforts in last year’s Jump Rope for Heart event paid off not only in dollars for the Heart Association but also in recognition for the school.

Susan Bell, youth marketing director for the project, delivered a trophy to the school for their efforts in raising $7,029 for the Heart Association in the jump rope event. The school ranked number 9 in the state for money raised for the charity project. This ranking came from only two grades participating as the school chose to narrow participation to fourth and fifth graders.

Headed up by Cheryl Lawrence and Valerie Dudash, teachers at the school, the Jump Rope for Heart program has 13 teams that raised the amount of money that placed them in the top 10 in the state.

The top money raising team, a team of fourth graders, named themselves “The Jumping Juice Boxes.” Special about this team was that one member, Bubbie Figgins, was born with a heart defect and was able to participate and jump to help his team get to the top. He raised the highest amount of donated dollars in the school and was on hand to accept the trophy from Bell at an assembly of fourth and fifth graders Monday.

Figgins, according to his mother, Tonda Darlington, was born with a defect called Tetralogy of Fallot. She explained that he had open heart surgery at five months of age and again at six months. He will need to have additional surgeries as he gets older and be monitored throughout his life time.

While Bubbie must limit himself in his activities and be mindful of his condition, that does not stop the young man from participating in a variety of things such as the Jump Rope for Heart event. He also is a member of the Shepherdstown FC’s soccer team, plays baseball and basketball.

Bell commended Figgins, as well as his teammates, Logan McLemore, George Struthers, Zachary Poindexter, Joe Anderson and Isaac Kessler. Each of the members agreed that the fundraiser was a lot of fun and they are looking forward to participating again this year.

Members of the teams jumped for one hour, said Dudash after the ceremony Monday. She explained that the students worked to prepare for the event by jumping before hand as well as collecting donations.

Principal Suzanne Offutt shared the many other ways the students at Shepherdstown Elementary contribute to their community including through the Math-a-Thon, Daffodil Days and a Hop-a-Thon.

“This is how we do good works in our community,” she told the students. “Our school gives lots of opportunities for that.”

Lawrence commented that the student body at Shepherdstown is a family.

“We all jumped in honor or memory of someone,” she said of the Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser. “We have done it for over 20 years,” she continued, saying how proud she is that with only the fourth and fifth graders participating that they have risen so high in the state.

Lawrence challenged the fifth graders to come back and the new fourth graders to step up to the challenge of continuing the tradition of working hard on this fundraising event.

“Start practicing jumping now!” she said.

In addition to the benefit to the Heart Association, the school also benefits by way of return gifts. The Heart Association gives a grant back to each school to help secure physical education equipment. Shepherdstown Elementary this year received $500 to spend .

“That’s a lot of nice equipment to help make you healthier and Ms. Dudash’s job easier,” Lawrence told the group.