A very special thank you to Jeremy Wickenheiser for the amazing work has has done with the youth at DSST-Green Valley Ranch and for allowing us the amazing opportunity to partner and be involved in such a great budding program.
The following are Jeremy’s final thoughts as the 2012 academic school year comes to a close and his youth embark on their next goal, the Denver Century Ride;
This past week four of our students, in conjunction with the Major Taylor Cycling Club, completed a pre-ride of the 25 mile route of the Denver Century Ride. I am extremely grateful to the hospitality shown to us by Darrell and everyone else from Major Taylor, as it was such a special experience and an accomplishment for the students to be able to complete a ride greater than 25 miles. Most students, in addition to many adults, did not think a program of this type was possible when we started in the fall, but after watching students who began by barely being able to complete 3-4 mile rides reach the point where they can complete 25 miles emphatically says this IS POSSIBLE. However, while I now have a great deal of data to analyze to quantitatively demonstrate their physical gains, there have been many anecdotal pieces of evidence to mark the success of this program and I know in my heart this program has truly become an integral part of DSST Green Valley Ranch HS.
Lance Armstrong once said “it is not about the bike” and while our program this year has definitely been about riding bikes and accessing new places with our bikes, character development has always been at the forefront. This year I have watched students in cycling club overcome challenges, both on and off the bike, and it is clear that students are applying the lessons and values learned through cycling club to their academics and life outside of school. One student in cycling club this year struggled in Humanities during both the first and second trimester. Her humanities teacher asked the other cycling club sponsor and myself to set up a meeting with her to discuss her grades and to see if we could help her define a path to success in Humanities. As a result of our collective effort she scored in the 90’s on both her final summative of the year and the multiple choice portion of the trimester three final exam. After final exams I had a chance to talk with this student and she readily admitted to me that she had given up in Humanities earlier in the year because it was difficult, but our belief in her and the strength of our relationship motivated her to finish the year strong. This is the power of cycling club. I have also observed another student who is academically at the top of the class, but who absolutely did not want to be a part of DSST do a complete 180 when he joined cycling club. This student has become a true leader in the school not only academically, but culturally and socially as well. This is the power of cycling club. I can provide many more quantitative and qualitative pieces of evidence, but without a doubt cycling club has had a tremendous impact in our student’s lives.
This year I have also seen students take on tons of new challenges and open themselves to new experiences. I am constantly reminded of the cooking session where two different students had their first experience ever with a kiwi (each student thought it was a potato!). Additionally, none of our students had been on a mountain bike ride prior to joining cycling club and it was awesome to see the courage each student displayed as they embraced this new challenge. Let’s face it, a lot goes through your mind while sitting at the top of the hill waiting to come down a section of single track and it frankly can be quite scary. But, imagine 10 or more people chanting your name and you find the strength inside yourself to take the risk and head down the mountain. This is the power of cycling club.
At the end of this year I met with students to gauge interest for next year and I am proud to state that 14 out of 16 students will be returning to the cycling club next year and an additional 19 tenth graders will also be joining cycling club. This means that 35 out of 140 students in the 10th grade want to be a part of the cycling club, which is 25% of all of the students in the grade. This is phenomenal especially when you consider this number doesn’t even include any incoming 9th graders. When I spoke with the students that were interested in joining cycling club for next year I talked about riding a bike, but most importantly I talked about becoming a part of a group of people that are willing to take risks and develop their character because let’s face it, powerful experiences outside the classroom are equally important for students in shaping who they become as people.
As I begin planning for next year and consider how to accommodate a larger number of students I will be reaching out to many of you to see how we can build off the success that we have had this year. Please feel free to reach out to me with thoughts and suggestions or if you are interested in getting involved in any way. Finally, on June 17th a group of students will be participating in the Denver Century Ride by riding the 25 mile course and I would love to invite all of you to join us. If would like to participate feel free to go to the following website and register: http://denvercenturyride.com/registration/ then, if you would like to ride with the DSST group email me so I can coordinate a group to ride.
Thanks again for all of your support and making this year possible,
Science Teacher|Bike Club Sponsor|DSST: Green Valley Ranch HS