or the 2015-16 school year, a couple of students transferred from Margaret R. Brown Elementary to Seymour-Redding Elementary.
Leaving Brown meant they no longer could be a part of its jump rope team, the Brown Bouncing Bears, which started more than 25 years ago.
But after talking to physical education teacher Allison Bowers, Redding became the second Seymour school to offer a jump rope club. During the second semester, the Hopping Hornets were led by Bowers and three other teachers.
First-grade teacher Ashley Murphy was among those who helped, and she and Bowers led it again during the first semester of this school year.
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Fliers were sent home with third- through fifth-graders to let parents know how the club works and what would be expected of the kids. Students then had an opportunity to sign up during PE.
The first 30 students to sign up were allowed to join last year, while there were 33 students this school year. Students had to buy a jump rope and a T-shirt last year, but those expenses were covered this year.
In the beginning, Murphy said the experienced jumpers helped the newcomers and learned advanced tricks during morning practices twice a week.
The club members were able to show off what they learned during an ISTEP+ pep rally for third- through fifth-graders, and they also performed for kindergartners through second-graders. The 15-minute shows included a group routine and 12 small group routines, using a single long rope and a double dutch long rope.
“By the time we got to the performances, they were all doing great, and they could all jump with us and keep up with the routine and do what we were doing,” Murphy said.
At the end of the school year, the club also taught kindergartners how to jump rope.
Once the club started back this school year, the students practiced for a half-hour after school three days a week.
Murphy said some of the team members from last year returned, and they blended well with the newcomers.
“Their levels weren’t quite as far apart because we had a lot more that had done it previously, so a lot more of them at least could jump and were working on basic skills, basic tricks,” she said.
The returnees were good mentors for the new members, she said.
“None of them were trying to show off or show them up or anything,” Murphy said. “They were leaders as far as helping teach them and helping show them what they needed to do or practicing tricks with the kids who were new. The kids at the beginning still had to learn how to jump at first and were really nervous to learn it, but they picked it up pretty quick.”
Their season wrapped up before Christmas break with a performance for the school during the day and one for parents in the evening.
Fifth-graders Anna Marks, Grace Hattabaugh, Isabel Maschino and Will Kratoska all were a part of Hopping Hornets both years.
Anna said Murphy and Bowers helped everyone improve their skills.
“All of them know how to jump well now and do a few tricks,” she said.
She also said being a part of the club has helped from a physical fitness aspect.
“My favorite thing to do is use my energy, and it takes a lot of work,” Anna said. “It helps me gain more strength in my body.”
When Grace started with Hopping Hornets, she said she wasn’t too familiar with jump roping.
“I really wanted to learn because I felt like everybody else knew how to, and I had no clue, so I kind of felt left out,” she said.
The more practices she attended, the better she became.
“I was just really bad at it when I first started, and I couldn’t do anything,” she said, smiling. “Now, I’m super good at it.”
Isabel also had little experience with jump roping in the beginning.
“All of my friends and family could really jump, and I was the only one that couldn’t,” she said.
She had such a good experience last school year that she knew she wanted to sign up again this year.
“Getting to meet new people and having a lot of fun, just learning new things and having new experiences,” Isabel said of her favorite things about Hopping Hornets.
Will said joining the club gave him something to do instead of sitting at home and watching television. He said everyone was able to improve.
“They start out in the beginning and they are OK, and they get in the middle and they are getting better, and in the end, they are like the people from last year,” he said.
Fifth-graders Olivia Reinhart, Carlee Claxton and Jaylee Reynolds joined the club this year.
“Most of my friends were in it, and they showed me some of their tricks, and I was like, ‘Wow!’ because I had no idea how to do any of them,” Olivia said.
She said it was fun learning the tricks.
“Some of them kind of came to me really easy, and some I had to really practice on,” Olivia said.
Carlee was encouraged to join because her best friend, Anna, was involved.
“I really didn’t know how to jump rope, so I just wanted to do it,” Carlee said. “All I really knew how to do was jump, and now, I can do all kinds of tricks. I didn’t really know how to do crisscross, and then Mrs. Murphy taught me how to do crisscross.”
Jaylee said some of her friends were a part of Hopping Hornets, and she decided to sign up her final year at Redding.
“It’s mainly Anna because every day at recess, she would always jump, and I would always watch her and be like, ‘That was really cool,’ so I wanted to try it,” she said. “I also lost my grandma a few months ago, and she has been a big inspiration.”
Murphy said she’s glad to see a jump rope club go over well at Redding. She was a part of the Brown Bouncing Bears when she was in elementary school and remembers how much fun she had.
“It was fun to be with your friends, it was fun to learn new tricks and it was fun to perform for others,” she said.
Redding plans to continue offering the club in the 2017-18 school year.
“I teach first grade, so I love getting to see previous students that I’ve had in first grade join Hopping Hornets,” Murphy said. “It’s nice to get to be around the older kids and see how they’ve grown and how they’ve changed.”