Pershing Students Jump for Joy over Lobbying Success

By Ronelle Williams |, Bridget Blevins |

Published 05/22 2014 03:26PM

Updated 05/22 2014 03:32PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Students chanted "P-E-R-S-H-I-N-G" as they performed jumping jacks during an assembly at Pershing Elementary School on Thursday.

They also rubbed elbows with the state legislators who helped them push for jumping jacks as Missouri's state exercise.

"It's gotten so far this year, farther than any other year really," said Mason Murphy, Pershing student.

It all started when the school's principal approached former State Representative Ed Wildberger in 2009.

"When they came to me, I wrote the bill and filed the bill, and submitted it for approval in the legislature. But, like most legislation, it took a long time and a lot of hard work to get it passed," said Wildberger.

Students came up with the idea as a way to honor General John J. Pershing, their school's namesake.

"He was the creator of the jumping jack back before World War I in order to get the troops ready to go overseas," said State Rep. Pat Conway.

Year after year, they pushed from St. Joseph to Jefferson City.

"They wrote a lot of letters, they did a lot of research for us. They even went down and testified before committees while we were getting this bill through the process," said Wildberger.

Finally, this year, the bill made it all the way to Governor Jay Nixon's desk.

"It never had gotten this far, so I'm really excited and happy that it's finally going to go all the way through," said Murphy.

The effort turned into a lesson in patience and persistence for everyone involved at Pershing.

"Six classes of students who pass through the fourth grade learned a lot about how government works, how it operates and just how hard of work it is to get things accomplished with the state," added Wildberger.

The jumping jack bill, HB 1603, just needs Governor Jay Nixon's signature to become law.

Copyright 2016 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.