At about 2:15 p.m. on Friday, a world record was broken in Chautauqua County.
The record was set when 352 students from Maple Grove Middle and High School connected hands to form a human chain, and passed a hula-hoop through that chain without letting it break. And once the record was broken, the students of the school erupted with excitement.
According to Matt Nelson, Maple Grove Student Council co-president, the student council made a list of eight goals to accomplish before the end of the year, and breaking a world record - any world record - was on that list.
Sixth grader Elsa Gruber, pictured below, waits for her turn as Courtney Hemminger passes the hula-hoop to Marissa Schuppenhauer. The sixth-graders had the honor standing at the beginning of the human chain.
P-J photos by Remington Whitcomb
"We knew we didn't want to do anything that involved baking," said Nelson. "Unfortunately, a lot of world records have to do with baking. We knew we wanted to do something outdoors, so we threw around the idea of having the most people (simultaneously) roll down a hill, but we couldn't find a hill that was big enough (to qualify). Eventually, we came up with the idea of putting everyone through a hula-hoop. We researched it a bit and found out that it was already a standing world record - 197 people at a YMCA camp. We have about 400 students here, so we knew we could do it."
According to Nelson, the entire school supported the record-breaking attempt without offering any challenge whatsoever.
"Everyone was 100 percent supportive right from the beginning," said Nelson. "All of the students, teachers and faculty really got behind us on this. All this week during gym class we've been running drills and practicing for the attempt today. The whole school has been a part of it, and the whole school should feel good once (we) break it."
Though the attempt was a collaboration of everyone at the school, Nelson said it required a lot of time, preparation and paperwork to make a new record official.
"We had to contact Guinness, and that took about a month for them to get back to us," said Nelson. "They had to approve the record, and then we had to do some licensing. All together there was about 40 pages of paperwork to fill out. Following, we had to find two witnesses from the community who were willing to count everyone and vouch that the new record was set legally and according to the rules. We also had to find eight stewards in the community to watch the event and also sign off that the record was set legally. We have to tape the attempt, as well as photograph it, and send all that in to Guinness. Once Guinness receives our paperwork, it should take them between four to six weeks to approve it."
Once the new record is approved by Guinness, a plaque will be sent to Maple Grove to recognize the accomplishment.
"We'll probably put the plaque in with our sports trophies," said Nelson.
The weather was in support of Maple Grove's attempt, as well. Blue skies and a gentle breeze graced the students attempting the new record, as well as the onlooking faculty.
"This is really awesome," said Ed Turkasz, high school principal. "Just looking at the kids holding hands is really good team building. And the fact that they pulled it off makes it even more awesome. There was cooperation between the students, faculty, community and weather - it all just came together so well. It was so enjoyable that some of the teachers are joking that we should try to break a world record every Friday."
After a successful career, Turkasz is going to be retiring at the close of the school year, and he believes he will remember the world record when he reflects on his career.
"It's good to go out on a world record," said Turkasz.