Students at St. Monica-St. Michael School in Barre have been learning about heart health since the donation of an Automatic External Defibrillator now kept in the school’s lobby.

Two eighth graders, Mariah Hoar and Isabella Bevins, participated in an American Red Cross course to become certified in using the AED and performing CPR in the event of a cardiac emergency.

Kae Zaino, physical education and technology teacher at St. Monica-St. Michael School and an American Red Cross instructor, taught the CPR/AED course as well as organized a Jump Rope for Heart event with the American Heart Association.

Students in gym classes in grades kindergarten through eight learned how to keep their hearts healthy through diet, exercise and lifestyle choices. They helped to raise more than $1,000 to support the research and education that the American Heart Association conducts.

Riley Cadorette, Lydia Cadorette and Chase Ladabouche were the top fundraisers for the event.

Students enjoyed speed jump-rope contests, double-dutch challenges and scooter and jump rope relays.

Students also learned about goal setting, both in jump roping and fundraising.

“I try to jump more times every time I jump rope,” said fourth grader Parker Harrington.

Fourth grader Jaidyn Pinard raised money “because some people aren’t as fortunate as us and don’t have healthy hearts so we should donate to help them.”

The school’s AED was donated by Matthew Romei of Williamstown who also certified many of the school’s staff in its use.

An AED is an electronic device that diagnoses and treats life-threatening cardiac rhythms.

According to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association, a victim has a 90 percent chance of surviving a cardiac event if an AED is used within one minute. If access to an AED is delayed more than 10 minutes, an adult’s chance of survival is just 10 percent.

“Keeping our students healthy starts with the habits they are learning in PE. Beyond that, I want them to help the hearts of others, and I am so proud of ours students who took the initiative to get trained in CPR/AED and who fundraised for the American Heart Association. It really goes along with the Catholic social teaching of caring for those in need,” Zaino said.

St. Monica-St. Michael school is a private Catholic school serving students of all faiths from throughout Central Vermont in preschool through grade eight.