Central students race around NYA

Central Middle School students Cali Gutknecht and Trevor Noga attempt the bottle flip challenge at Dairy Queen as Paige Wilkerling and Alex Gort look on during the NYA Amazing Race event last Thursday. (Adam Gruenewald/The Times)

by Adam Gruenewald
adam.gruenewald@ecm-inc.com

Continuing a tradition, Central Middle School students raced around NYA at local businesses and locations to complete various tasks on Thursday.
Held every three years, alternating with dodgeball and a trip to Valley Fair, students competed with each other with the 10 teams of Alexis Jones and John Hanson’s team “Just Jones,” who edged out Shawn Erickson’s team “Mr. E’s Twinkies” by about a minute as Melissa Fuhrman’s Fairies took third.
Students were organized in teams of sixth- through eighth-graders in their Central Times, a culmination of the 20-minute homeroom classes held each school day.
The event was organized by teachers Rachel Pexa, Alexis Jones and Melissa Fuhrman, and featured challenges such as bottle flip challenge at Dairy Queen, eating baby food at Econo Foods, counting change at Klein Bank or even reading dramatically in the Central School Library.
“It was awesome,” said Pexa. “We had eight businesses that wanted to participate and said yes.”
Pexa and the other teachers started planning for the event in the beginning of May, although she emphasized that “everyone had a hand” and the parent volunteers helped to make not only the Amazing Race a successful event, but also helped with track and field day in the afternoon.
“We had awesome parent volunteers this year,” she said. “It was so nice. They were all so excited. Going to each of the stations with the volunteers was so much fun.”
On top of the volunteers, businesses made it possible as well, including new additions Lazy Loon Lanes, Schmidt Chiropractic and Southwest Eye Care, where students bowled, potted the traditional flowers used during Stiftungsfest and took part in a sand transferring activity.
While the event functioned similar to years past, the addition of Road Blocks, won by students during the annual airplane toss in the winter, wound up factoring in the standings as 5-minute delay penalties caused delays to Erickson’s team, which finished second, and Laura Hanson’s team as well.
“It was just enough to kind of shift the results a little,” said Pexa. “It was fair for everybody and no one knew they were there.”
While the next two years will feature a kickball tournament and a Valley Fair trip, Pexa said she will like take part in the planning process again.
“It’s a nice rotation and sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders get to do something different every year,” said Pexa, adding students took video and pictures with cellphones and a GoPro that were later shared. “It was just an awesome day. It’s such a fun way for kids to spend time with their Central Time and build that camaraderie. We’ve become little families in our Central Time and everybody is really encouraging. It’s fun to see everyone compete, but in a fun, healthy manner in a fun competition.””
Follow Adam Gruenewald on Twitter @adamgruenewald.