EVERETT — “Big scoots! Big scoots!” Cassandra White encouraged the roomful of first-graders.
They were trying to ride bikes without training wheels, for only the second time.
Cheers rang out as some dared to lift their feet higher and higher, then all the way onto the pedals.
The first-grade teachers at Silver Lake Elementary started the after-school bike club this year, volunteering their time. They recently graduated the first group of riders and started another.
At Silver Lake Elementary in Everett, there's a bike club for first-graders learning to ride. pic.twitter.com/HXetEp1ZwC
— Rikki King 📝 (@rikkiking) May 9, 2018
Teacher Daina Presley was shy when she was little. She didn’t dare talk to anyone unless they spoke to her first. She sees the same trait in her students sometimes.
Riding a bike is a confidence builder.
Bike Club has a helper. Second-grader Shane Martinez is the son of kindergarten teacher Melissa Martinez. He learned to ride a bike last year, through a camp called Pedalheads.
Shane saw the grownups at school trying to demonstrate how to use the tiny bikes.
They “looked funny,” he said. “I thought I could totally show them.”
Last week, he encouraged a first-grader who took a spill. It’s not so bad, he told the boy. Try again.
Pedaling is hard until you get the hang of it, Savannah Hartman said.
The secret is “try to do stuff to balance,” Daniel Sok said.
The idea for Bike Club came from a father, White said. During parent conferences, she asks about families’ goals for their children. The man wanted his son to ride a bike, but he was struggling to make that happen in their apartment building.
The next day, White asked her students who could ride a bike. Only two kids raised their hands. She talked to the other teachers and together they applied for a grant through the Everett Public Schools Foundation. New Life Church donated helmets.
Now, on Wednesday afternoons, school staff hear “Watch out!” as yet another rider is ready to brave the main hallway.
Back in the gymnasium, teacher Joe Costa promised Giovanna Castro he wouldn’t let her fall.
Giovanna doesn’t draw a lot of attention at school, because she always does what’s right without being asked, said Presley, who has her in class. Sometimes, the quieter kids need a little reassurance to take a risk — like balancing on a bike.
Giovanna was getting comfortable with big scoots.
Riding a bike will be her biggest accomplishment since she wrote a song and sang it to her mother, she said. The title was, “I Like You Mom.”
“I wish every day was Bike Club,” she said. “I feel like a star.”