by Head of Lower School Marybeth Heyd
This fall, two Upper School students – brothers E. and S. (names are abbreviated for their privacy) – came to me with Lori Goldenberg’s support to pitch an idea. They wanted to teach young Pike students how to ride a bike. They had done their research, talked it through with Lori and with their parents, and felt confident proposing the project to me. They were also open to feedback and suggestions, acknowledging along the way that they knew it would be a great deal of work to pull it off. I was so inspired by their passion and determination that I agreed right away, and with a few tweaks here and there, they were off and running with the planning process.
Several months later they made the same pitch to a far more important audience: the Kindergarten children they had decided would be the ideal age group to target for this project. They had adjusted their expectations slightly – focusing on giving all Kindergarten children the chance to practice riding a bike, whether they could ride independently without training wheels already or not – and were hoping for 10 children to sign up. To their delight, 17 children sent in permission slips (which they also created!) and were eager to show up every day before school for the week-long program.
E. and S. secured enough bikes and helmets for those children who did not have them, and many brought their own. They also organized enough volunteers so that there were plenty of hands on deck to help the young bikers. On four late April mornings (we were rained out one day), they showed up early, set up a course, coaxed timid (in some cases) Kindergarteners onto bikes and guided them as they wobbled their way around Pike. It was amazing to see children make progress in such a short amount of time: taking risks, trusting the older students, and gaining confidence in their abilities.
The program was a total success in every way. When reflecting on the experience, E. and S. noted, “We were surprised to see how happy everybody was to be there. We got the sense that none of the participants had been forced to go to the program by their parents, they were truly happy to be there.” The children weren’t the only happy ones – a Kindergarten parent shared the following feedback about the program: “I just wanted to send a message saying thank you so much for the successful bike riding lessons! Our child was not even close to being able to ride without training wheels and with work being busier than ever, I have had less time lately to get outside with him. Well, I had a couple of hours with him today and he was riding like he’s been doing it for years. I knew it might help, but I was not expecting such results.”
Non Sibi Solum comes in so many forms at Pike – from food drives to building beds. It’s wonderful to see that our students can act in service to others right here on campus, and do so in such a meaningful way. I am certain that the Kindergarteners will always remember their time riding bikes with a little help from some wonderful older students – as will the Upper School volunteers who made the whole thing possible.
The Pike School is an independent, coed, day school for Pre-K through ninth grade in Andover, Massachusetts. Visit pikeschool.org to learn more about Pike – and visit our blog for more thought leadership. To learn more about admission to The Pike School, visit our Admission page.