Gresham students out in force for Bike to School Day

Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski - Gresham Community School students, from left, Mason Ninham, Jessa Jensen, Luke Jensen, Will Jensen, Emily Jensen and Ben Page ride along Schabow Street to get to school Thursday morning. Almost 100 of the school’s 300-plus students rode their bicycles to school in observance of National Bike to School Day.

Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski - Gresham Community School students Kale James, left, and Jayden James cross the road on their bicycles to get to the school Thursday. Teachers and staff members were stationed throughout the community to make sure the riders made it to school safely.

Nearly one-third of Gresham Community School’s students traded bus and automobile transportation for something with two wheels Thursday.

Close to 100 students rode their bicycles through the street to get to school, with teachers and staff guiding the way and keeping motor traffic off their tails. The bicycle ride was part of the National Bike to School Day, which was rescheduled for Thursday in Gresham due to rainy weather on Wednesday.

Some students traveled two to three in a group, while some traveled in larger packs. The school has two racks available for students to park the bicycles, but teachers had to scramble to find available spots as they quickly filled up.

SoHappy Davids, a Title I teacher at the school, greeted students outside the school and encouraged them to fill out slips for prizes. She was pleased to see that such a large portion of the school’s 300-plus student population took part.

“I’m really happy to see all the participation,” Davids said. “We were talking about it a lot. The kids were very excited yesterday.”

Tim Wild, the school’s physical education teacher, coordinated the local event. Even though Shawano schools have been participating for several years, this was the first one for Gresham in recent memory, Wild said.

“We might have done it a long, long time ago, but in the last 12 years, we haven’t,” he said. “We were notified about the event and thought it would be a good idea and a good way to get kids out and active.”

Wild said he saw the excitement was building among the students as the day grew near, but he was taken aback by how many of them participated.

“I was impressed by the turnout that we had,” Wild said.

Wild was eager for his students to learn about alternative ways to get to school in ways that promote good health. As the teacher responsible for promoting physical activity, he wants students to know they can be active outside of his class.

“You’ve got a lot of smiles from the kids,” Wild said. “They’re out there with their friends coming to school, and they’re enjoying it.”

Wild plans to continue sharing the message of healthy benefits from bike riding even after National Bike to School Day is over. He noted the school offers a summer class on bicycle riding.

“If they enjoy doing this, that can be something they could sign up for and do in the summer for a longer period, as well,” Wild said.