An epic week of fun and funds

Astute concentration and hand-eye coordination took precedence over physical exertion on the blacktop of Thurston Middle School on Wednesday morning.

A group of eighth-graders gathered for the second day of the weeklong Epic Challenge, a series of "Amazing Race"-style games all students participate in during their physical education classes. The event is a key fundraiser for the school. Students began fundraising three weeks ago. As of Tuesday night, they had secured $27,357 in donations, nearly catching last year's total of $32,000, said Kristi Matheson, co-event coordinator. Yvette Beebe helped Matheson organize the event.

Each group of students had two minutes to complete each game. Wednesday's games were similar in that they measured totals, as opposed to whether or not a student completed a task.

The games varied in complexity of set up and execution. The contests included: hitting a badminton birdie underhanded into a bucket 10 feet away; students holding a balloon between their legs as they hopped or skipped around a cone; and arranging a group of staples, using erasers as a base, so a marble could roll through the staples (as through a pipe) and fall off the table into a plastic cup.

Another game required students to flip a spoon resting on a table into a cup. Early on one team eclipsed the previous record of successful flips (33) by 13.

John Fogerty's "Put Me In Coach" and Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" played from the speakers.

For the balloon game, Cole Paxson hopped speedily around the cones with precision.

Lily McKinney, Emily Addis and Isha Huston teamed up to roll the marble through the group of staples and into the cup.

Parent volunteers kept track of each group's score. Teams competed against others in their period — not the entire school. Students play for catered luncheons. The event runs through Friday.

Thursday's games will model the "Minute To Win It" television show, where students have 60 seconds to complete a task they chose to take on, Matheson said.

Winners for each period will be determined by cumulative point totals from Tuesday through Friday. Students are also raising money for an opportunity to win an iPad 2. Every $100 a student raises earns a ticket into a twice-weekly drawing to win an iPad 2. All fundraising proceeds go to the school.

Andrew Ranabargar and Joseph Kerfoot made progress toward the catered luncheon with their performance during a game that required one person to catch marshmallows flipped into the air. Kerfoot caught several marshmallows in a cup as Ranabargar used the tip of a broom handle to whack the plate where the marshmallow rested, hoisting the sugared spongy cube into the air. The team combined to catch 30 marshmallows in two minutes.

Matheson said volunteer support is critical to run a smooth event.

"Some moms stay the whole day, which is great," Matheson said.

Twitter: @AldertonBryce

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