Bike “kindergarten” expands to nearby districts

Kindergarteners at Indian Lake Elementary School in Vicksburg get ready for a ride in 2021. Photo by Paul Selden.

Inspired by the success of the All Kids Bike Kindergarten PE program in Vicksburg schools, neighboring Climax-Scotts and Schoolcraft school districts have received funding from The Vicksburg Foundation to bring the program to their elementary schools as well.

The innovative program includes an eight-lesson curriculum, PE teacher certification, 25 balance bikes with pedal conversion kits, helmets and support for five years from the Strider Education Foundation. The program can be conducted entirely on school grounds or inside a school gymnasium.

“This will especially benefit many of our students and their families who may be struggling during these unusual times,” said Superintendent Doug Newington of the Climax-Scotts district. “It would be great to provide the opportunity for all of our kindergarteners to learn to ride a bike. It will benefit them for the rest of their lives.”

Schoolcraft Superintendent Rick Frens agreed. “All Kids Bike is an incredible way to teach our students a life-long healthy hobby at an early age. Riding a bike is a great way to stay active and enjoy being outside, and our kids need healthy habits more than ever. Bike riding is also a fun family activity.”

Bike Friendly Kalamazoo is acting as the area’s local fund raiser, helping schools apply for grants and raise the money from local supporters. “The program will help our most precious resource learn to ride safely, and give them a fantastic opportunity to exercise, as well,” said Bill Adams, Bike Friendly’s vice president and chair of its fundraising committee.

Vicksburg PE teacher Sawyer Duncan was one of the first to implement the program in Michigan, in 2021. “While riding a bike seems like a skill that everyone learns, that is not always the case. This program teaches students balance, coordination, perseverance, bike riding and safety. As Bike Friendly Kalamazoo’s Education Chair, my goal is to spread this program to area elementary schools so that every student in greater Kalamazoo knows how to ride a bike safely from a young age.”

Vicksburg Superintendent Keevin O’Neill praised the program. “The All Kids Bike program was easy to integrate into our physical education curriculum and is relatively easy to adopt in any school that has a playground, indoor gym, or safe space in a parking lot. Most importantly, the students thoroughly enjoy the program.”

Information about Bike Friendly Kalamazoo’s All Kids Bike Kindergarten PE Program will be updated at bikefriendlykalamazoo.org. The organization is a 501c3 Michigan nonprofit organization whose mission is to help make the greater community even more bicycle friendly.

Schoolcraft Community Library May events

Children’s Book Week May 2-8 – Special activities, drawings and giveaways!

Tot Time is BACK! – Every Tuesday in May and June, 10-10:30 a.m.. Exciting fast-paced program for tots 18 months to 3 years. One adult lap per child needed. Email missroxanne@schoolcraftlibrary.org or call 679-5959 to sign up. Space is limited.

Preschool Story Hour – It’s Spring! 11-11:30 a.m. May 10, ages 3-6. Stories, fingerplays, movement and a take home craft.

Michigan Notable Author Lisa Sukenic visits Prairie Page Turners – 2 and 6:30 p.m. May 4 in the Bob Crissman Community Room. An intimate discussion with the author about her book “Miles from Motown” Join us for a great discussion, sharing and snacks!

Art by Schoolcraft High School – Selected art pieces from students of Schoolcraft High School will be on display throughout May.

Art Reception Wednesday May 11, 5:30-7 p.m. Come meet some of the students whose art is displayed.
Teen Mug Rug – Grades 6-12 from noon-1 p.m., Saturday, May 21: Learn how to create a coaster for your mug with a homemade loom.

Check our website and follow us on Facebook @Schoolcraftlibrary for teen mug craft updates and spring break take-home kits.

Schoolcraft receives approval on ESSER III grants

The top ten students from Schoolcraft High School’s 2022 graduating class.

By Travis Smola

The Schoolcraft School District anticipates a $447,000 grant in federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding for summer learning and maintenance of ventilation systems at the high school.

The pandemic-relief funding is being distributed through three formulas. The district has received ESSER-1 and ESSER-2 grants for hiring a guidance counselor.

Kendra Drewyor, the district’s finance director, told school board members about approval of the ESSER-3 grant at its April meeting.

Another grant through the program is awaiting approval, Drewyor said. It may be used for a category of students including those in low-income families, racial minorities or learning English. Drewyor noted the funds must be fully expended by July of 2024.

In other news, board President Jennifer Gottschalk was finally able to confirm to the village’s 4th of July committee that it may use a portion of school grounds for the fireworks show this year. The board and the committee had been going back and forth for a few months to find a solution. Until this month it wasn’t clear if construction would interfere with the proposed launch site or not.

Gottschalk also briefly discussed upcoming open positions on the board. Gottschalk, and Trustees Jill Hunt, and Randy Blankenship’s terms are expiring in December. Gottschalk and Hill’s seats are six-year terms. Blankenship’s is a two-year term. Hill cleared up some confusion by noting Blankenship’s term is incorrectly showing as ending December 2024 on the district’s website. Gottschalk and Blankenship both plan to run again. Hunt has decided she will not seek re-election to focus more on her career outside the board of education’s duties.

“We’re seeking more candidates,” Gottschalk said. “Rick (Frens) and I are going to discuss how we can get this out to folks in the area. I’ve talked to a few people who might be interested.”

Athletic Director Jeff Clark also briefly highlighted the extremely successful winter sports season that culminated with the boys’ varsity basketball team winning a state title. Clark noted the boys’ basketball team shot 75 percent from the field in the title game for both two and three-pointers.

“You don’t see that with any team, whether it’s pro, college; that was really good,” Clark said. “And the defense was just stifling.”

Clark didn’t have all the individual accolades from the season at the time of the meeting. However, he noted across all sports, the district had seven athletes earn honorable mention all-conference, eight first team all-conference athletes, and won two conference championships, three district championships, and two regional championships.

“All around, a really good effort by all our sports teams this past winter,” Clark said.