On Friday, June 4, a large group of 5th grade students from P.S. 14 walked into school like any other day, but then walked out at the end of the day with a brand new bike.
The bikes were given out as part of Jay Bee’s Ride for Success, a program now in its 10th year. Jay Bee Bligen Lapuppet, who created the Ride for Success initiative, is clearly more involved in the daily lives of students than the average custodian might be.
“This year, I bought half the bikes out of my pocket,” said Lapuppet. “For the rest of the donations, we kept it in the school, using the kitchen staff and PTA members.” In the past, elected officials had always donated bikes, but this year, none were needed.
Nineteen bikes were given out in total — nine for academic achievements, nine for contest winners, and one to Katherine Jones, whose mother passed away this year, and who school principal Jason Kovac said had been noticeably brave throughout the ordeal.
Non-academic contests included chess, checkers, art and speed cups, an event which Kovac said is “this wacky game the kids play in gym. They’re talking about making it an Olympic sport, I’m not even kidding.” The academic achievements that earned bikes were spelling, highest reading score, and best essay in a writing contest. “Be safe, be seen” was the slogan written on tote bags hanging from the handlebars.
After a ceremony in which each winner was called up to claim his or her new bike, the entire gang headed out back to the schoolyard to ride them around. This time around, there was no chance for helmets, but Kovac and Lapuppet continually shouted out, “In the future you always ride these with a helmet on!”
Euklid Hyseni sped his around the yard, grinning over his embarrassment of riches. “Now I have two bikes!” he said. “I’m pretty excited, I’ll probably go to Waterbury Park to ride it.”
Reach Daniel Roberts at droberts@c
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