Bike giveaways assist schools

What is a dream come true for an elementary school student? Winning a brand-new bicycle.

Thanks to the combined efforts of Henrico elementary schools and local businesses, several lucky students will be living the dream with their very own new bicycle: the ultimate reward for their hard work throughout the school year.

Last year, Seven Pines Elementary School organized an end-of-the-year bike raffle to motivate students to perform to the best of their abilities on the Virginia Standard of Learning (SOL) exams.

“What kid isn’t super excited by the prospect of a brand new bike?” asked Seven Pines Principal Paul Llewellyn. “This raffle is an excellent incentive for the children to work hard and do their best on these standardized tests.”

Teachers are not permitted to assist their students during standardized tests, which measure how well students are using the strategies they have been taught throughout the year.

School officials want to encourage students to utilize their independent test-taking skills with confidence. In order to develop these habits, students at Seven Pines earned tickets for the raffle based on their ability to demonstrate command of basic test-taking strategies.

For example, students who displayed good test-taking skills, such as highlighting a passage while reading, were rewarded with raffle tickets. After testing was finished, all tickets were entered into a raffle and the four winning names were pulled during the last week of school.

To secure bicycles for the raffle last year, the PTA at Seven Pines approached Mark Romers, president of the Eastern Henrico Business Association. Romers was successful in procuring the four requested bikes, two of which he donated personally. While this effort was definitely a success, it was also only the beginning.

This year, Romers sent out an e-mail request to friends and members of the association and received five bike donations within 24 hours. Since only four bikes were needed for the raffle at Seven Pines, Romers decided to send out another request, in the hopes of receiving more bike donations so that the Seven Pines raffle could be emulated at another local elementary school. The response again was positive, and soon three more bikes had been donated.

The four extra bikes were offered to Jonathan Hochman, principal at Highland Springs Elementary School.

Both principals are very fond of this motivational bike raffle. They feel that it serves as positive motivation for the children to do their best on these tests, despite the fact that they take place at the end of the school year and the students are worn out.

The prospect of winning a new bike “helps them push through and ensure that they are trying their absolute best on these tests,” Llewellyn said.

Romers says he is committed to helping out these schools and rewarding the hard-working students in Henrico County. He is already looking ahead to this time next year, and is hoping that churches, banks, businesses and individuals will continue to exhibit such generosity through their donations.
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