Principal Donny James held the stick wound tight with brightly-colored string high above his head and the Ross Elementary School students cheered.
Art teacher Jill Vanderhook took a victory lap , holding the stick like an Olympic torch, and students roared while “We Are The Champions” blared through disc jockey Frank Prest’s speakers.
Although still unofficial, the record of the world’s longest friendship bracelet belongs to the Ross Elementary students with a measurement of 2,678.02 feet (816.262 meters) measured by professional land surveyors Jess Kronenwetter and Bill Bolton from Borton Lawson Engineering Firm.
For seven months, students at the school have been tying friendship bracelets, using colored embroidery string. They tied in homeroom. They tied at lunch. They tied at recess. They tied at home.
They tied and tied and tied.
While Bolton and Kronenwetter counted each individual bracelet, students enjoyed a Carnival Day on the school grounds.
Three and a half hours after the length of the bracelets was announced, the official count was in.
As Kronenwetter counted off the last 10 bracelets and Bolton echoed the numbers, anticipation mounted.
When the last bracelet was counted, Ross Elementary students had made 7,507 friendship bracelets. The crowd erupted.
But is it enough to be recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records? Time will tell.
The current record for the longest friendship bracelet belongs to Owingsville Elementary School in Kentucky. Students there tied 3,799 friendship bracelets that measured more than 810 feet in 2011.
Officials at Guinness reported to James that a group of people in India had submitted evidence that it had tied together 4,123 friendship bracelets but that amount has not yet been ratified.
Even if the India count stands, the Ross students tied 3,384 more bracelets. As long as the documentation holds up, students at the Sweet Valley school will have their names recorded in history.
The project started last October when James heard a radio promotion attempting to gather together enough people to put on sunblock at the same time in an attempt to make it into the Guinness Book. That attempt failed but it was all James needed to rally his troops.
After meeting with Vanderhook and several other teachers, the plan was in place and students started tying. Every one of the school’s nearly 300 students made at least one bracelet.
Sporting t-shirts that read, “Ross Elementary School Tied Together in Friendship,” students enjoyed a Carnival Day on the grounds of the school on May 1 while Kronenwetter and Bolton counted while teacher Jen Welby video recorded and PTO volunteer Cheri Derhammer photographed the counting, both requirements of Guinness.
The message of the project was much greater than just brightly-colored string and tying as students bonded together in their record-breaking attempt.
Savannah Purdy was the leader of bracelet tying in her family, according to her mother, Jennifer, who said the sixth-grader encouraged third-grader Chase Marie and kindergarten student Tristan to become involved in bracelet tying.
“They’ve been excited about it all year long,” Jennifer said.
Cheri Horan said her daughter, Samantha, a first-grader, “is excited about being part of a world record.”
Sixth-grader Jessica Evans said, “Every little bit counts” while her friend, Rebecca Bonomo, another sixth-grader, pointed out the anti-bullying message the project centered around.
Third-grader Lilian Raczkowski tied about 200 bracelets, 100 of them during recess while Sarayah Smith, another third-grader, said the 100 bracelets she tied represent friendship.
Superintendent Jim McGovern sported a t-shirt at the event and third-grader Jeanna Pritchard reflected on the fun she had tying bracelets.
As students, teachers and parents danced to the “Hokey Pokey” and the “Macarena” while measuring was taking place, fourth-gradera Spencer Judge and Christian Seprish talked about how the project made them want to stop bullying.