By Peter Maxwell
Most high school senior class events are tried and true, or cut and dry, depending on whether you think glasses are filled half way up or are emptied half-way. Schools often hold fundraisers, car washes, club fairs or extravagant proms.
Not many attempt to break world records in the span of five minutes.
"It's going to come down to the wire," said Mady Miraglia, a social studies teacher and the advisor to the class of 2011 at Mountain View High School.
Miraglia is standing outside the gate to Mountain View's track and field area on April 3. Three volunteers clad in red shirts that read "Dare to Leap!" imposed over an unassuming frog keep a tally as pairs of kids, students, and parents pass through. It takes three of them clicking away at hand-held counters to cover the continuous stream of people squeezing in between the gap in the fence.
All of these people — a couple of paramedics, police officers, news cameras, Assemblywoman Sally Lieber and Mayor Jack Seigel — are here to see the 2011 high school class attempt to organize over 1,400 people to beat the Guinness world record for the largest number of people leap-frogging in unison for five minutes.
But despite dwarfing the average high school football attendance, at a fraction of the price, there weren't enough people.
But that's okay. The Sunday afternoon is sunny and warm, there is room for flinging footballs and Frisbees, and a few club tables with food. It was an event to embrace spring with an afternoon outdoors and a semi-aerobic activity.
"Even if we don't beat the record it's a fun event for the class to go out on," said Sarah Benett, class of 2011 student council member.
Her father, Sandy, was there with his wife as his leap-frog partner.
"We're here to set the record, it's gonna be fun, and it's a great day out," Sandy Benett said before the event. His daughter made sure he and his wife wouldn't miss it. And judging by the crowd, he wasn't the only one.
A good deal of the leapers came with their whole families. Ryan Khalessi, president of Mountain View's class of 2011, and the rest of the organizers reached out to local elementary schools and community groups to get as many people as they could.
"I'm really excited about the turnout," Khalessi said "We have so many people from so many different places."
All of the participants are wearing white versions of the T-shirts worn by organizers and volunteers, which came with the $2-per-pair entry fee. On the back of the shirt is a list of sponsors: Red Rock, Global Upside, Rutnel Dental, MVHS PTSA, and parents like Marc Rodgers.
"This is a great event," said Marc Rodgers, a parent and one of the event's sponsors. "All the younger kids come and they can say, 'Hey, high school is fun.'"
This wasn't a fundraiser, the class of 2011 had to tap sponsors and their own coffers to organize the event. But to Miraglia that's been one of the most exciting parts of the great leap, seeing the school's seniors spend more than a year organizing and planning the event. They held multiple practices in the school quad to promote the event and planned for necessities like food and porta-potties. The class even produced and posted on Facebook instructional videos showing proper leap-frog form. Guinness mandates that proper leapers must keep their hands on their knees or legs, not on the ground.
When it came to the actual leaping, the five minutes of glory, not much could be heard but giggling and the drum beat that served as a cadence. The field was mapped out in a massive grid where pairs of leapers would take turns jumping over each other, turn around, and do it again, for five minutes.
It would be safe to say that not everyone had the motions down. There probably weren't any gymnasts on the field, just regular folk with their own ideas of what it means to leap over someone like a frog.
"The younger kids among us might have the advantage," noted Assemblywoman Lieberman.
"At one point I saw a little boy standing on his father's shoulders," Miraglia said. "He had to walk up over him every 'leap.'"
And while a few red-shirts said that people who pre-registered and then didn't show up attributed to the less-than-history-making crowd, a few of them seemed pleasantly surprised by the volume.
"We just wanted to put something together that a lot of (people) would come out for and enjoy," Miraglia said, "We'll challenge any other high school to get as many people as we did."