LEWISTOWN - The sounds of seemingly endless high-fives will be overheard in the south end of town when students and teachers vie for the title of Guinness World Record holders.
Approximately 1,500 children and staff from Lewistown Intermediate School and Mifflin County Middle School are scheduled to begin high-fiving at 8:45 a.m. on April 4 at the field beside the two schools. LIS teacher and event organizer Kelly Manning said the group is competing to beat the Guinness World Record for the longest high-five chain.
"The kids ... as soon as I get the Guinness book in from the book orders, it doesn't stay on the bookshelf," she said. "It's just a book that they love."
Manning said teachers were brainstorming ways to motivate their students this year to prepare and participate in standardized testing. Inspiration came from her bookshelf.
"I looked up a bunch of different records, and this just seemed like one that we could do and one that we could beat," she said.
After consulting with LIS Principal Paul Maidens, Manning applied for the opportunity to try and beat the existing record. Her application was approved. As of last week, Manning said the record is held by a hotel in Hawaii that organized a chain of 1,110 high-fives.
Manning estimated that LIS and MCMS could beat the record by as many as 390 high-fives.
It costs nearly $7,000 to hire an official moderator from Guinness World Records to assist with the event. Instead, Manning said the schools are going to try to break the record "the free way"- by video-taping every detail from the first high-five to the last.
Manning said high-fives must be head-height and be an audible clap to qualify, and each participant only has one chance to correctly high-five their neighbors.
"If one person doesn't do it right, it negates the whole thing," she explained.
To prepare students and staff, Manning made a notebook and smartboard presentation and sent it to participating teachers. While they haven't set aside significant time to perfect their high-fives, Manning said students practice while waiting in the lunch line.
If it takes each person one second to get and give high-fives, Manning said she estimates the whole line could take about two and one-half hours.
"We could always be beaten," Manning said, before the next Guinness World Records book is published. "If we can hold our numbers, then there's a good chance we'll be in the next book."