January 25, 2014 in Washington Voices

Sunrise Elementary jump rope club is jumping

By The Spokesman-Review
Jesse Tinsley photoBuy this photo

Skyler Neumann, 9, performs a move called the funky chicken during a rehearsal of a routine with her jump rope clubmates at Sunrise Elementary on Wednesday. The jump rope club, Hoppy Feet, participates in parades and puts on demonstrations.
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Hyrum Aballay’s favorite jump rope move is called the double under. He jumps a few times to get his momentum going before jumping while spinning his rope two times around.

The fourth-grader at Sunrise Elementary School takes part in Hoppy Feet, a jump rope club for third-, fourth- and fifth-graders.

“I did it last year and I thought it was pretty fun,” Aballay said.

Hoppy Feet has been offered at Sunrise since 2010, when parent volunteer Petra Hoy and her family moved to the area from Redmond, Wash.

The first thing her daughter, Dharma, asked when she started at Sunrise as a third-grader was if there was a jump rope club like her old school had, her mother said.

There wasn’t, so Hoy started one. That first year, there were two sessions with about 30 students in each. Now, there are about 50 students in each session. The current session is for third- and fourth-graders who are learning to jump rope. The next session starts in February for older jumpers.

The program is funded through Student Motivating Activities and Recreation Time, or SMART, which is money allocated by the district for after-school activities. Rose Francis, a counselor at Sunrise, said SMART funds have also been used for Math is Cool and reading recovery programs. Potential future uses are a chess club and some artistic programs.

Dharma is now a student at Evergreen Middle School. She and her friend Cierra Neumann still help coach younger students at Sunrise.

“It’s fun, but it’s also a good way to get exercise,” Dharma said. Cierra said she liked being able to make new friends, which is how she met Dharma.

This week, the students are gearing up for a performance for teachers and parents. They have been split into groups and choreographed their own routines.

“It’s a great opportunity for the students to challenge themselves, be creative, improve their fitness and show off their moves to their friends and family,” Hoy said.

During practice, students could be seen jumping while spinning their ropes backward, jumping on one leg, jumping with one leg wrapped around their wrist (it’s called the funky chicken), and two kids jumping with just one rope.

“I just like to jump rope,” said third-grader Grace Utecht. “Someday I’d like to be a singer, so I need to get used to an audience.”

Andrew Jones, another third-grader, said he worried the club would be for girls when he first heard about it.

“I found boys that were in my class (who were doing it),” he said. “I just decided to jump rope and now I really like it.”

When asked what his favorite move is, third-grader Thomas Stacey replied, “I like them all.”

At the end of each routine, many of the kids strike poses. Third-grader Kyley Schneckloth slid into the splits.

“I taught myself,” she said of the pose. She said she was first interested in jumping rope after her older sister was in the club last year.

The students have not limited their performances to just their Sunrise family. Hoppy Feet has performed in the Junior Lilac Parade and during the Valleyfest parade.

After a dress rehearsal for their performance next week, the students lined up on the stage of the gym and took a bow.

“They are such good kids and I am proud of every one of them,” Hoy said.

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