Throughout February, students at Manor Heights spend time learning about Special Olympics Wyoming and begin their fundraising efforts for the annual Jackalope Jump. In addition to learning about Special Olympics, Mr. Vondra introduces a disability awareness unit in his Physical Education classes, “The idea is to raise awareness for Special Olympics and the inclusiveness and opportunities that they offer. We do different disability awareness activities in PE so the students can tie the information and understanding of inclusion together.”
Led by Manor Heights Physical Education teacher Mr. Vondra, the event has become a well-loved tradition among the students and school community. As the largest team, the Frozen Jaguars raised $24,085 for Special Olympics Wyoming!
Leading up to the event, a school assembly is held to announce the jumpers and total funds raised. “It's one of the highlights of the event,” shared Principal Thompson. “The looks on their faces as their names are announced, the excitement and the nerves. It’s a blend of excitement and knowing they just did something important.”
Kindergarten student Karli was looking forward to her first Jackalope Jump after spending the past few years watching her older brother participate. She is excited about the event, especially getting to swim after with her friends, and shared she thinks it's important to give to others in her community, “Sometimes people might get sad, and it makes them happier to cheer them up.”
Adam, a 4th-grade student at Manor Heights and expert Jackalope Jumper in his 4th year of participating, was this year's top fundraiser for Manor Heights! Adam said he went door to door collecting donations for Special Olympics Wyoming because he believes it is important to, “raise money for other kids so that they can do the same sports and things as me. It makes me feel amazing!
Principal Thompson shared that throughout the year, Manor Heights works to foster a community of leaders and exceptional learners, “This is how we grow young citizens at our school; it’s always been one of the pieces that we focus on, right along with reading, writing, math. It’s how you learn to become a good citizen. One way you become a good citizen is giving back when a need is there. Staff, students, families, and our community…when there’s a need, our Manor Heights community always steps up. I am amazingly proud of our Manor Heights School community for supporting the Frozen Jags in the Jackalope Jump by raising money for such a great cause.”
On Friday night, as the sunset glowed across the Wyoming sky, excitement filled the air as family, friends, and jumpers huddled together, waiting for the first jump. Finally, it was the Jumping Jaguars' turn to take the plunge. Cheers of encouragement and joy echoed off the water, as, one after another, the students and a few teachers made their way up the ladder to brave the icy plunge.
“It is a great feeling to see our school come together every year to help support such a great cause. Participating in any fundraiser is a family commitment, so the success of the Jackalope Jump is really a true testament to the amazing kids and families we have here at Manor Heights,” shared Mr. Vondra. “Participating in community events really gives students the chance to appreciate others’ abilities. My favorite part is seeing students’ faces when it’s “go time”; it’s a mixture of nervousness and pure joy!”
Manor Heights Elementary is committed to working together as a learning community of students, families, and staff to achieve high levels of learning for all students to succeed in school and in life!