It was a week of many bicycling events, including the Cascade Bicycle Club sponsored, “Ride Everywhere Breakfast.” However, nothing out shone Bike-to-School Day. Seventeen of Seattle Schools registered with walkbiketoschool.org to participate in the day’s event. For their efforts students were recognized as well as given prizes. Some schools held special assemblies at the beginning of the school day.
The participation at some schools is amazing. Graham Hill Elementary with less than 400 students had 35 students participate in Bike-to-School Day. The success must be attributed to teacher, Jupinder Gill and her team, Leo Berk, Elaine Hanifan and Jeff Nachtigal as well as supportive principal, Walter Chen, and fellow teachers. The program has been built over three years with Gill assuming the leadership and advertising. First to praise those who have assisted her, Gill explains that this was the first year that she exerted a great effort.
Graham Hill Elementary was founded in 1960, following previous schools that existed on the historic Graham HIll site. According to Gill, the school serving a large number of homeless children, includes a high population of students who speak English as a second language and receive free or reduced lunch. An article in the Rainier Valley Post last June states, “More than 60% of Graham Hill students receive free and reduced lunch, 33% are English Language Learners and 82% are students of color. Many have recently moved to the U.S. from impoverished and war-torn countries like Ethiopia and Somalia.”
Gill emphasizes, “Some don’t own bicycles, but they would like to so we walk at lunch break so they can participate.” Students receive “feet tokens” for miles walked based on a scale dependent upon grade level. Gill adds, “I teach nutrition, [the school] composts, the whole community is on the ‘Go Green’ path.”
For elementary school students biking to school during National Bike Month, Cascade Bicycle Club offers an assortment of prizes. With a focus on keeping kids safe and active, students that participate at all levels of engagement in Bike to School Month will be awarded:
- Spoke sliders for up to 360 minutes of riding
- Reflective pant leg straps for those riding more than 360 minutes
- The elementary schools with the highest total number of minutes biked during the month of May will be featured in an article in the Cascade Courier and receive the coveted Golden Pedal Award.
Jupinder Gill explained how as an immigrant from India she learned that in the United States teachers are so much more. Her Bike-to-School efforts are an example of how our teachers give so much to help their students succeed. Bike-to-School Day at Graham Elementary School was a success. Whether or not Graham wins the Golden Pedal Award, Ms. Gill deserves the gratitude from us all.