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Students win bikes for perfect attendance

Fifty-one students didn't miss a day at Moon Lake Elementary this year. The school rewarded their flawless records by giving each a shiny new bike.

By MICHELE MILLER

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 14, 2000


MOON LAKE -- Nick Parham got the luck of the draw on the last day of school when he won the honor of being the first of 51 students with perfect attendance at Moon Lake Elementary School to pick out a shiny new bicycle. Holding a crinkled piece of paper in his hand bearing the number one, the fourth-grader made his way past a line of spoked wheels to claim the only blue and black Minisport Roadmaster in the bunch. Then he turned to flash a smile at his mom.

"I think this is great," said his mother, Christy Parham, snapping photographs. "I know that's what's kept him coming."

Indeed, even those days when Nick was feeling perhaps a little under the weather, he made the extra effort.

"I just told myself that I had to go to school, because I wanted to get a bike," Nick said.

The perfect attendance bike giveaway program established this past school year at Moon Lake has proved to be a great success, said dropout prevention teacher Lucy Jordan, who facilitated the program.

Last year's total of students with perfect attendance was eight. This year 51 students made the trek to school every single day. Another 22 students missed only one day of school and were rewarded with used bicycles left in property evidence from the Pasco Sheriff's Office and refurbished by community members.

The program was the brainstorm of Jordan and an anonymous donor, who, after a pancake breakfast fundraiser sponsored by Boy Scout Troop 65 in October, pitched in the extra cash to buy the bikes for this year's giveaway.

"We wanted to give the kids an incentive to come every day," said Jordan, who was inspired to come up with "something different and something big" after attending a districtwide meeting stressing the importance of good attendance for at-risk students.

"It's especially important for all students to be here," Jordan said. "We were told that next to that FCAT, attendance is the most important thing."

While students such as Nick will undoubtedly enjoy their summer vacations tooling around on brand-new bikes, there were those who were willing to give back. Because third-grader Tiffany Demopoulos had recently received a new bike, she donated her winning ride back to the program so it could be given away next year. Sisters Ashlee and Nicole Brown, who also were set in the bicycle department, said they were going to give their bikes to needy children in the community.

"This is excellent," said their proud mother, Kimberly Brown. "It gives all these kids such incentive."

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