Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

November 21, 2013

Quick-handed record-breakers

South Elementary School students stack their way into Guinness Book

Staff Reports
The Andover Townsman

---- — South Elementary School students paired some plastic cups with some skillful maneuvers last week to become among the world’s newest record-holders for speed cup stacking

South’s fourth-and fifth-graders joined more than 500,000 students around the globe in successfully breaking the record for the sport that involves stacking cups in various pyramids at lightning speed.

Physical education teacher David Giribaldi brought speed stacking to South School for the first time this year after being introduced to the sport by Carol Martini, a physical education teacher at Andover High School, and through working at Andover’s Hooptown summer camp.

Seeing how the campers enjoyed cup stacking, Giribaldi said he developed a unit for South and the activity was wholly embraced.

Giribaldi said there’s more to speed stacking than the obvious benefits of hand-eye coordination, quickness and ambidexterity. The reason he sought to introduce it at South was two-fold, he said.

“First, speed stacking has shown to help students in the classroom. Speed stacking causes students to cross their midline, bringing your right hand across to your left side and left to right,” he said in an email. “It forces both sides of the brain to communicate with each other. It obviously helps with physical activities, but can possibly help students with reading and writing.”

But perhaps more importantly, it can serve to equalize all students, he said.

“It levels the playing field for some of the students who might struggle with a ball skill-related activity and can help those students build confidence in physical education,” Giribaldi said.

To finish off the speed-stacking unit, Giribaldi signed South up to be part of the Guinness Book of World Records’ attempt for the most people around the world speed stacking in one day. To participate, schools had to commit to having at least 25 students stacking cups for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Originally, the record attempt was going to involve only the fourth- and fifth-graders who had physical education on record day, Thursday, Nov. 14. But the speed-stacking unit proved to be such a hit that Giribaldi opened the experience up to every South student in fourth and fifth grade.

Last Thursday, South’s 184 speed-stackers joined, at last count, 500,781 stackers at 2,828 schools in 33 countries in shattering the previous one-day world stacking record of 483,658 stackers, which had been set the previous year.

Giribaldi credited the Andover Fund for Education for providing a grant to buy the speed-stacking cups last year and the South PTO with purchasing the mats and timers. He said other schools in town, including Shawsheen Elementary and Andover High, have used the cups as educational tools and to be part of previous world-record attempts.

“They are a great resource for the teachers and students of Andover,” he said.