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New Bicycle Repair Class at Gilliland Takes Off
Gilliland Middle School seventh-grader Brendan Ruiz grabs a tire lever off the table and quickly uses it to get underneath and disconnect a bike tire from the wheel. He spins the tire 360 degrees as the tire pulls away from the wheel until it is completely off. His goal is to remove the tire and tube underneath, only to immediately reassemble what he just took apart. On top of that he’s being timed in a race against his classmates doing the same thing.
This scene is typically not what goes on in a middle school classroom, but Claudia Becho’s community service class is not your typical middle school class.
The class has evolved into a small bike repair shop that teaches kids about bike safety and bike maintenance. The community service aspect of the class remains strong as the class takes in donated bikes, fixes them using the skills that they’ve learned, and gives them out to those around the community in need.
Creating a class that combines philanthropy, hands-on skills, and problem solving all while holding connections to the world outside of class sounds next to impossible, but Becho’s pilot class has taken off. Becho herself was surprised at the initiative the students have been taking.
“At first there was definitely excitement about the class, but most of the kids were reserved,” said Becho. “But it only took a couple of days before they all started jumping in and participating.”
“I like how I get to physically work,” said Ruiz. “We don’t write down what we learn, we do it.”
Becho isn’t in this alone though, the Tempe Police Bike Squad sends an officer out every Thursday for additional help with instruction and the Tempe community has been donating bikes as a part of the Recycle-a-Bicycle program.
“The class is very hands on and your hands will get dirty, but that's the fun part,” explained eighth-grader Miguel Duran before adding, “If they don’t get dirty, you’re not doing it right.”
In addition to the skills learned, the students will create a bike maintenance “how-to” manual as a way to document their progress. From writing the instructions to designing the physical book, the students will head the semester-long project every step of the way.
Do you have a bicycle that you would be willing to donate? Gililland is accepting bikes in all conditions including those that are unfixable. Becho and her class plan to repair the bikes and give them back to those in need within the community.
Along with Gililland Middle School, the City of Tempe has named various Tempe Fire Stations as their donated bike drop-off zones. For information on drop-off locations please visit http://www.tempe.gov/city-hall/public-works/transportation/recycle-a-bicycle.
For additional information, contact Claudia Becho at email@example.com or Gililland Principal JoLyn Gibbons at firstname.lastname@example.org.