Parsons students jump for joy after fundraising effort

Students at Parsons Elementary School celebrate collecting $8,204 for the American Heart Association through its Jump Rope for Heart campaign.

NORTH BRUNSWICK – Students at Parsons Elementary School showed they have heart – both literally and figuratively.

For more than 15 years, the school has participated in the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Jump Rope for Heart event, raising awareness of heart-health issues while also promoting the importance of helping others.

“We’ve always stressed to kids about helping families,” physical education teacher Heather Angeles said.

Fellow physical education teacher Kathy Johnson brought the program to Parsons years ago, receiving supplies and videos from the AHA. This year, an app was available; students could take pictures with the Scare Squad, silly monsters that encourage their goals. They also received thank you gifts depending on the level of their donations.

This year, the school’s 800 students collectively raised $8,000, more than $1,500 over last year’s total. The children celebrated during an assembly on April 13 where the top fundraisers were awarded: Milan Virdi, fourth grade, raised $740; Saiya Patel, fourth grade, raised $701; Gianna Ribner, first grade, raised $375; and Olwethu “Lulu” Ndlovu, fourth grade, raised $220.

“For children to raise over $700, that’s amazing,” Angeles said. “It’s very impressive. … We are so proud of the kids. They do a great job every year but this year we’re astonished at the amount they raised.”

Debbie Druker’s second grade class, as well as Sheena Chan’s second grade class, had the most number of participants in the fund drive. Angeles said they will receive a special movie day as a reward.

“We really try to take ownership of this program and explain the importance of helping others,” Angeles said.

From a health standpoint, gym classes for the kindergarten through fifth grade students included 12 different stations such as jumping, jump rope skills and partner activities.

“We’re always getting their hearts to beat fast. We talk to them a lot about how to keep their hearts healthy and keep their hearts strong, so we do a lot of cardio activities,” Angeles said. “[We explain] why we exercise, why it’s important to play and move and not sit and play video games.”

Other activities at Parsons include a Haunted Trail, “Land of the Lost” obstacle course, and a culminating field day in May.

Contact Jennifer Amato at [email protected].