A record? It’s a stretch


May 1, 2013

ROSS TWP. — Colorful pieces of string stretched along the green grass behind the Ross Elementary School on Wednesday morning. As the chain of 7,507 friendship bracelets tied together was unspooled and measured, students danced and clapped knowing each bracelet was another 4 inches toward a world record.

After more than an hour, the unravelling was over and surveyors from the Borton-Lawson engineering firm had measured 2,678 feet of friendship bracelets, well more than the 810-foot-long friendship bracelet officially recognized as the Guinness World Record mark that’s been held since 2011 by students of Owingsville Elementary School in Kentucky.

The number of bracelets would also set a record, besting Owingville’s 3,799.

The bracelets stretch more than one half mile and all 300 students in the school had a hand in the record-setting occasion.

Most students, wearing T-shirts with the words, “Ross Elementary Tied Together in Friendship Guinness World Record May 2013,” watched in awe as the bracelets were unspooled, knowing they did their part in helping the school be considered for the record.

Guinness will take documented evidence from the event, including video, pictures and media accounts, along with required paperwork, and at some point will decide whether the record is official.

Building teamwork

Amber Hoyt, an 11-year-old fifth-grader from Ross Township, said she enjoyed making hundreds of the bracelets, but they’re not as easy to make as they look. She also enjoyed the project.

“It brought the students closer together,” she said, echoing comments offered by plenty of her schoolmates.

Bobby Long, a sixth-grader from Sweet Valley, said he personally made between 70 and 80 of the more 7,500 bracelets created by students at the kindergarten through sixth-grade school.

“It’s exciting,” said Long, 12. “The whole school came together and we all had the same goal.”

That togetherness and the bond forged by the friendship bracelets being intertwined were the aims of the project, said Principal Donny James.

He came up with the idea while listening to the radio last summer and hearing about an attempt at setting the record for most people applying sunscreen at once that was happening in Forty Fort.

He researched potential world records that his school could attempt to break and came across the story of the Kentucky students and the friendship bracelets.

“I thought to myself, that’s pretty cool and it’s something we could do,” James said.

He sat down with a group of school officials, including art teacher Jill Vanderhook, and discussed the requirements and feasibility. By the first week of October, the plan was in place, and the first friendship bracelets were being made.

By mid-February, the school believed it had enough to break the world record but later learned that a group from India had submitted evidence that it had broken the Kentucky school record by creating a chain of 4,123 bracelets.

‘Whole new frenzy’

“That started a whole new frenzy,” said Jen Welby, a teacher at the school. She said students began creating more bracelets and had crafted an additional 2,000 in the months since. “We wanted to give it a nice cushion,” said Welby, of Dallas.

After the morning event, while judges and observers meticulously counted each bracelet, students enjoyed an outdoor carnival with music while handmade signs were strung to fences displaying anti-bullying messages.

Each year the school holds anti-bullying programs, and James thought this sort of a project would not only fit the bill but would also give students a chance to be listed in the record book.

Only the students’ actions and Guinness’ ruling will tell if he was right.