Julia Randall Elementary School students are now among a select group of Americans who have seen Arizona’s state schools Superintendent Tom Horne jump rope.
A veritable sea of children squealed and clapped in joy Friday morning when Horne picked up the rope’s handles and began jumping, the soles of his dress shoes clopping on the gymnasium’s hardwood floor.
Minutes earlier, Principal Rob Varner had introduced Horne “to the finest students in Arizona — the JRE Bulldogs.”
JRE is one of 10 schools statewide to receive the Healthy Bodies/Healthy Minds award for its physical education program.
“I’m looking at the future leaders of Arizona and of the country,” Horne said. “Repeat after me — I love the AIMS test.” AIMS stands for Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards, the state standardized test.
JRE students obliged. “I love the AIMS test,” they howled with glee.
Physical fitness has a direct correlation to academic excellence, Horne said. JRE has been a state-labeled “excelling” school for two years, and is the only “excelling” school in Gila County.
Physical education teacher Donna Moore, wearing a Bulldogs sweatshirt, led her charges through a display of the program’s rigors.
A jump rope presentation preceded Dance Dance Revolution, which is actually a video game depicting dance moves which students follow on a mat that electronically tracks their steps.
Early this year, Moore applied for and received a $2,500 grant from the National Football League, and the video she made to apply is now shown nationally as an example of what they should look like, Moore said Friday. In the video, JRE students are shown taking advantage of the neighboring Green Valley Park to take walks, stretching in yoga, poses and sitting on stability balls instead of classroom chairs.