Annual Bike Ride Highlight For Liberty Sixth Graders, ParentsAug 10, 2015 09:31AM ● By Bryan Scott
By Julie Slama
About 12 years ago, Shelby Ansted put on a bike helmet before heading out with her Liberty sixth-grade class to bike to Riverview Park. On May 27, she once again strapped on a helmet and joined her daughter, Paige, and her class on the same bike ride.
“It’s the same route, same instructions about using hand signals and wearing helmets, and the same fun with a barbecue and games in the park afterward,” she said.
Well, almost. For the first time in 32 years, the bikers and parent volunteers left their ground beef behind at the school, teacher and organizer Judy Mahoskey said.
“We had two firsts — first time no bikes or chains broke en route to the park, and the first time we forgot our hamburgers to grill,” she said.
After a parent volunteer went back for the hamburgers, Ansted said she appreciated the traditional ride for the sixth graders.
“Kids can be outside more and this is a way that Mrs. Mahoskey can share her love of riding bikes and help get students to do more of it,” she said.
Paige, who has ridden with her cousins and family, hadn’t ridden with a group of 55 people before.
“We were escorted by the police here and it’s so fun to ride together with all my friends,” she said.
Paige was planning to play at the park with her little sister, Trinity, and her friend Corin Greenhalgh.
“It’s a fun experience to go biking in the middle of the day with your friends and just hang out and have fun after taking all of our end-of-the-year tests,” she said.
Parent volunteer Christy Snow, whose son Ben is in sixth-grade teacher Shalice Benedum’s class, said it’s more than just biking: it’s teaching the students responsibility.
“They’ve looked forward to it since they first learned sixth graders bike to the park,” she said. “And it teaches them how to be responsible riders on the road and understand that they’re leaving the school on this ride, and it’s a bridging for them to learn more as they’re leaving elementary school.”
Before the ride, Mahoskey, who organizes the annual ride, teaches students hand signals and then checks 55 helmets before they pedal off.
“I want them to love bike riding and become active,” she said. “There’s too much TV and sitting around. We’ve had the police escort us to the park every year. We couldn’t do it without them.”
The event unifies students and celebrates the end of the year of learning and the end of their elementary school years. Students played volleyball, soccer and baseball, rode bikes, hula hooped and played games at the park before the barbecue.
Parent volunteer Casey Anderson was manning the grill for the third time. He had participated previously with his older children.
“I just love taking this day off to help out and give them a smile,” he said. “These teachers are both the best. They make sure the kids learn and help them have a thirst for knowledge, and today is just another way they are teaching them skills and having them enjoy school.”
Sixth grade is a challenging year and a turning point for many students, so part of the reason they hold the event is to end the year with something memorable, Mahoskey said.
“I remember that Mrs. Mahoskey was a great teacher who would give us extra help with reading or whatever we needed so we were ready for junior high. I’ve seen how her attitude has helped my daughter become more of a team player and has learned to cooperate. She’s always there for the students and always finding fun ways for them to learn,” she said.