Bristol Elementary puts happy spin on school year’s end

       Thirty-five Bristol Elementary fifth-graders received rolling “graduation presents” on their last day at the school (May 23), courtesy of the non-profit Kids on Bikes (KOB) program.

Bristol Elementary fifth-grader Kaleb Brickell hurries up to see his new bicycle during the Kids on Bikes giveaway May 23 in the school gym. He was among 35 in his grade (others can be seen in background) who earned enough points to receive bikes through the Kids program during the past school year. At right is program director Lyndsey Arkfeld. With the microphone, reading off names, is Caleb's teacher, Marni Zabel.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The entire class had been given the opportunity last fall to accumulate points, based essentially on the concept of getting good grades and staying out of trouble, throughout the school year. All but five earned the 1,000 points necessary, and they were treated to a special assembly featuring KOB director Lyndsey Arkfeld, professional mountain cyclist Kelli Emmett… and 35 shiny new bicycles.
       Each one was the type (BMX or mountain) and size that individual students had requested last fall. Their reward also included helmets and bike locks.
       KOB, which was founded in 2005 by Paige Carmichael of the Westside's Carmichael Training Systems, is supported by donations from individuals, private foundations, local merchants and organizations, a KOB press release states.
       Bristol is the second school in Colorado Springs to be selected by KOB (Sand Creek Elementary was the first), and as such will remain in the annual program, according to school social worker Janet Oliver. “Once they start at a school, if the school wants it, they won't cut you off,” she said.
       The bike giveaways are the culmination of KOB's “ABCs” program, in which kids meet academic, behavioral and character-based goals that they agree to in advance.
       Oliver said she worked with students to make sure they didn't set goals that were unreachable. For instance, if a student was getting a D in a class, a good goal was to reach C- first and then improve to a regular C, she pointed out. For fifth-graders already getting A's, she said the goals were to score at even higher levels on achievement tests (which typically leave room for improvement, even for the brightest students).
       She added that going into the assembly some students had been just below 1,000 and had to scramble to make the necessary points.
       The overall idea with the ABCs program is to make a difference with children before they enter middle school. This “ gives them the opportunity to take ownership of their education by having a specific and attainable goal to encourage them,” the KOB press release adds.
       KOB bought the cycles at cost ($207 each) from Specialized Bicycles, an international company; they were assembled at no charge by the Westside's ProCycling shop. If sold retail, the price for each bike would have been $355, Arkfeld said.
       Looking on at the assembly (perhaps enviously) were the school's third- and fourth-graders. Sure enough, Oliver said afterwards, she had “a number of kids” from those grades come up to ask how, in the years to come, they can win bikes of their own.

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