School Notes: Bikeathon 15 at Bellerose

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Bikeathon @ 15

Bellerose Bulldogs are spinning up the Bikeathon this week for a historic 15th year in a row.

The 15th annual Bellerose Bikeathon runs March 7 to 9 in the school’s atrium. Roughly 800 students – pretty much the entire school – will ride stationary bikes non-stop for 48 hours to raise cash for the Kids with Cancer Society. Some will also get their heads shaved to raise money for the Stollery Children’s Hospital.

The school has been working for months to arrange sponsors, T-shirts, posters, and donations for the fundraiser, said Bikeathon co-chair Maddy Bartlett.

“Cancer affects everybody in every sort of way,” Bartlett said.

“If there’s any little thing we can do to help prevent this, I don’t see why people wouldn’t want to be a part of that.”

The Bikeathon typically fills the school’s atrium with scores of kids, bikes, snacks, pillows, TVs, and goofy costumes. Expect lots of dancing, a hypnotist, “some gross stuff,” and perhaps a round or two of Paint Twister before the end of the event, Bartlett said.

The Bikeathon raised some $270,783 last year and about $2.14 million since it started 15 years ago.

Teacher Sue Leighton said she and vice-principal Dawn Rothwell thought up the Bikeathon after running with the Cops with Cancer triathlon team. The school’s student leadership team ran with the idea and rallied 100 kids to raise $14,000.

“Everyone was astonished by how much had been raised. They were so proud.”

The Bikeathon is much bigger and more organized now than it was in that first year, Leighton said. It’s also shorter – they initially did it for 60 hours to match media coverage of the Tour de France, but trimmed it to a more manageable 48 after two years.

Teacher Dave Edwards, who took part in the first Bikeathon, said this event was a great reminder of what kids can do.

“We’ve had 15 years of kids committing and dedicating themselves to a greater cause and making the world a better place,” he said.

“It’s actually very inspiring.”

The Bikeathon runs from 11:30 a.m. Wednesday to that same time Friday. Residents can check out the Bikeathon as part of the Bellerose open house Wednesday night and make donations at http://bit.ly/2F7w2n5.

Lord’s Prayer tweaked

Junior high students at Sturgeon Heights will no longer start the day with the Lord’s Prayer starting this fall, the Sturgeon Public school board has decided.

Sturgeon Public School Division trustees voted this week to discontinue the junior high recitation of the Lord’s Prayer at Sturgeon Heights School as of this fall. Elementary kids at the school will continue to recite the prayer.

Although it is a public school, Sturgeon Heights students have traditionally recited the Lord’s Prayer each morning since the school opened in 1971. That stopped in 2011-2012 after two families asked to be excluded from the prayers, and restarted in 2012-2013 due to popular demand. Ever since, changes to the prayer practice at the school have been subject to approval by the board of trustees.

Right now, parents get a letter each year asking if they want their child to participate in the prayer so the school can separate kids into prayer and non-prayer rooms, said principal Jonathan Konrad. (The school’s split 50/50 when it comes to who prays and who doesn’t, he added.)

But Konrad said he noticed that junior high students at the school didn’t seem engaged with the morning prayer, and didn’t have the collective identity that came with starting their day off with kids in their same grade. After two years of talks with the school’s parent council, parents agreed to suspend the prayer for junior high and offer an optional religion class instead. Konrad asked the board to approve of the change last month.

Board chair Terry Jewell said the board approved the change as the majority of parents were behind it, adding that Sturgeon Heights was the only Sturgeon Public school that did the Lord’s Prayer.

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Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.