“Simon Says bark like a dog. Simon Says stand on one foot. Put your hands on your head. Oops! Simon didn’t say to do that.” If this was a real game of “Simon Says,” you would be “out.” Recently, thousands of students from coast to coast, including some from New Tampa, participated in what is believed to be the world’s largest multi-venue game of “Simon Says,” the popular childhood pastime where you have to follow “Simon’s” directions, but only when the words “Simon Says” come before the command.

On September 23, The Goddard School in Temple Terrace participated, along with 320 other Goddard Schools across the nation, in an attempt to break the current Guinness Book of World Records world record for most people participating in a game of Simon Says. The record currently is held by Utah, which had a game with 12,215 players in 2007. To beat the record, the schools would only need to surpass the current number of players by one, and although Guinness has yet to declare them a winner, it seems probable that The Goddard School may have this one in the bag. To break the record, the players did not have to be in the same physical location; however all of the schools started at precisely the same time and had their own “Simons” to give out directions.

The Goddard School, located off the Fowler Ave. exit of I-75 in Temple Terrace, has 100 students, which is on par with most of its other schools around the country. Multiply that by the 320 schools who participated, and you can see how it is possible that they have may crushed the former record by more than double (an estimated 32,000 participants). To be in the record book, the schools must send in an official count of the number of players, as well as have a witness verify that the game took place. Temple Terrace Police Chief Kenneth Alban and Rachel Haviland, the president of the New Tampa Chamber of Commerce, took the responsibility of being the game’s witnesses, while Tampa Bay Parenting magazine publisher Angela Ardolino played the role of the local Simon. Also, the game of Simon Says, per Guinness rules, had to last at least 10 minutes.

An official count of the number of players from all of The Goddard Schools, including the Temple Terrace campus, will be released in the upcoming weeks.

As the founder of the Miami Children’s Theatre, Ardolino has had a lot of experience playing Simon Says. She says she never would have thought that she would be involved in breaking a world record through the game though, and said she was excited to have the opportunity to be Simon.

“I mean, how cool is that?” Ardolino said. “I bragged to all of my friends today that I was going to help break the Simon Says world record. It would make a great Facebook status, wouldn’t it?”

The record-breaking attempt was the final activity for a week-long national block party that each of the Goddard Schools hosted.

“We put an emphasis on fitness,” says local Goddard School owner Brad Toston. “The school encourages the idea that children can learn lessons through play. That’s why we chose to play Simon Says. It keeps the kids moving and it keeps their attention.”

The purpose of the block party was to take part in U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign, which is in full-force during the month of September, which has been called National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.

Toston says the children at the school have had been preparing for the record-breaking attempt by “practicing” the game as a special activity. He says Simon Says is a fun game for the children, as well as the teachers who were also allowed to participate in the game to help beat the record.

The Goddard School is a for-profit preschool for children 6 weeks to 6 years old which focuses on play and education. Toston stresses that the Goddard School is not a “day care” and that all of the school’s activities are designed to enhance the emotional, social, intellectual and physical development of the students.

The Goddard School is located at 13401 Tampa Oaks Blvd., off Morris Bridge Rd. and E. Fowler Ave., in Temple Terrace. For more info, visit GoddardSchool.com or call local school owner Brad Toston at 978-8100.

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