A record 163 bullfrogs vied for first place at John D. Sutter Elementary School’s 53rd Annual Frog Jump April 27 on the school’s Santa Clara campus at the corner of Forbes and Pomeroy Avenues. The frogs—guys only—were hand-caught by net on the banks of a pond and irrigation canals in Los Baños.
Nine intrepid Sutter dads, frog jump co-founder and retired Sutter teacher Bill Guzules, and one third grader ventured out at dark to make the almost 100-mile drive (each way), bringing in the record catch over three nights.
Friday’s frog jump was the culmination for students of a week studying frogs. The younger students drew frogs, read frog stories and learned about frog habitats. The older students did projects and wrote frog reports, poems and stories, in some cases writing their stories from the point of view of a frog. They taught the younger students what they had learned about frogs at a school assembly.
“Our annual Frog Jump is one of Sutter’s most memorable events. It brings out students, alumni, parents and community members to our campus to see the joy of students jumping frogs and applying concepts around this event into reading, writing, math, science and computer science,” said Sutter Principal Michael Fong.
All day long, starting at 8:45 a.m., anyone brave enough to hold a frog took a turn at jumping one of the randomly chosen amphibians pulled out of a rubber trash barrel with water. The students gave their frogs historical, fairytale and whimsical names such as Hamilton, Donald Trump, Pikachu, Tacos, Lillian and Froggy.
The frogs, which are returned to their original habitat after the frog jump, measured the minimum legal length of four inches nose to tail. Whichever way they jump—forward, sideways, backward—it counts in measuring the farthest distance jumped in three leaps.
Santa Clara Unified School District Board Member Jodi Muirhead’s frog, Cinderella, jumped an impressive 12 feet one inch. Despite kissing it, Board Member Andrew Ratermann’s frog jumped only a disappointing few feet.
“I love that this brings families, the school and the community together,” said Muirhead. “It has such an impact on the kids to see the community involved.”
“This is the kind of activity you hope to have at schools,” said Ratermann. “The kids are engaging in planning and execution of the event, and they’re all excited. There’s nothing like hands on science, and you can’t get more hands on than this.”
The Sutter student whose frog jumped the farthest will be announced at an upcoming school assembly and be invited to participate in the famous Calaveras County Fair & Jumping Frog Jubilee (May 17-20), where the first contest was held 90 years ago in 1928.
Friday’s winning jump at Sutter was 16 feet 10 inches, two feet shy of the winning jump of 18 feet 9 3/4 inches at the 2017 Calaveras frog jump.
The current world’s record jump of 21 feet 5 3/4 inches was set in 1986 by the late Lee Giudici, who was a Sutter teacher. Giudici and fellow teacher Bill Guzules started the Sutter frog jump in 1965.
Guzules says that the Sutter Frog Jump is the only school jump in California and is second in size only to Calaveras. He believes it to be the only school jump in the country. Follow the Sutter Frogs on Facebook.