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Summit School students show lots of heart for nonprofit

Sixth-grader Josie Jennings participates in the Summit School Fun Run on May 16. (Tyler Tjomsland)
Sixth-grader Josie Jennings participates in the Summit School Fun Run on May 16. (Tyler Tjomsland)

At Summit School, students were inspired by classroom work to raise money for the American Heart Association.

For the past couple of months, seventh- and eighth-graders studied the respiratory and circulatory systems, learning how the heart works in science class. Then in health and fitness class, they learned how to keep their heart healthy.

That led the students to organize the school’s first Jump Rope for Heart.

In all, they raised $10,709.

Kristin Telin, youth marketing director for the heart association, said the donation from Summit was the largest from a school in the Spokane area.

Summit is a K-8 school in the Central Valley School District. Students who attend register from around the district for project-based learning.

Timothy Gallagher, a fifth-grader, raised the most money in the school, jumping rope in honor of three friends at the school who have had open-heart surgery.

“I went online, posted on Facebook, sent emails and went door to door,” he said. He raised $500.

“I hope all the adults and children who have had open-heart surgery or heart disease will recover fast and be OK,” he said.

Brenda Gildehaus, a parent at the school, said her 6-year-old daughter, Carsyn, raised $350. Gildehaus said she made one phone call for Carsyn to show her how and the kindergartner took it from there, collecting donations that ranged from 41 cents to $50. The project meant a lot to the little girl, Gildehaus said, because Carsyn’s grandfather died of heart disease.

“She said, ‘I want everybody to have their grandpas,’ ” Gildehaus said.

To celebrate the donation, the seventh- and eighth-graders also designed a fun run at the school with stops at different stations for activities designed to raise participants’ heart rate. Activities included hopscotch, jumping jacks, an agility course and a Hoppity Hop ball.

The organizers, 60 students in all, also created a PowerPoint presentation to show during an assembly to give the check to the American Heart Association, talked to the younger students about keeping healthy and created their own lesson plans for those talks.

“I think they did a fantastic job,” health and fitness teacher PJ Jarvis said of the students.