Students at Russellville High School (RHS) get more than just an 8-to-3 education. Advanced placement study sessions along with a wide variety of clubs, meetings and events offered means RHS is well populated with students throughout the afternoon as well as Saturdays.
“If you are here after hours, this school is still very much alive,” assistant principal Sarah Stobaugh reported. “But what we were finding is that the bus riders who have to get home could not get back for the after-school or Saturday programs that are available.”
Many RHS students don’t have a car or transportation to get back to the school after hours. This need is why the Crown Club, a student chapter of the Junior Auxiliary Civic Organization, became involved. Over the summer of 2017, assistant principal Stobaugh started working with the Crown Club on finding a solution to benefit the students who were without transportation not only back to the school, but also students who needed to work to help their family financially. The result of this collaboration is the Cyclone Cyclers.
“The Cyclone Cyclers is a new project we started last year and it has blown up in a good way,” said Stobaugh. “We’re creating a bike room that the bike dependent student body can use to help service their bikes, borrow a bike if their bike is in service, borrow rain gear, etc.”
School events are the only reason the Cyclone Cyclers exists. “Many students would come to me and say ‘Mrs, Stobaugh, do you know of any place hiring, but it has to be within the area.’” Stobaugh says the need for student mobility is on a broader scale than simply school functions. It’s a way “to help open up this town for the kids who needed to work or to have a way to come back to the school in the evenings,” said Stobaugh.
The program started with just a few Facebook messages for used bike donations. They didn’t expect the huge response. All bikes, whether they were in working order or not, were accepted with the help of RHS teacher Chuck Campbell who oversees bike repairs. The Crown Club also has a fund set up with local bike shops for when parts are needed to repair the donated bikes.
There are no criteria set for students to receive a bike said Stobaugh. Students check out the bikes for use and return when they are finished. “Criteria is you walk up and say I need a bike, do you have one that works?” said Stobaugh. Students simply borrow a bike for as long as they need it indefinitely. “If you just give it to the student, they will bring it back when they’re finished with it,” said Stobaugh. “And if they don’t then they needed the bike.”
But the bike program isn’t just about supplying students with bikes. If a student’s personal bike is broken, they have the option to check out a loaner bike and the Cyclone Cyclers will have that student’s bike repaired back to working order.
Since it’s more about supplying bicycles to students in need and not so much about getting outdoors, the Cyclone Cyclers doesn’t meet criteria for bike program grants. The Cyclone Cyclers has relied entirely on donations from the community and funds raised by the Crown Club.
Moving forward, Stobaugh said that the vision she shared with Chuck Campbell, who is also an avid bike rider, is to expand the program. With that idea comes a two-fold process that will consist of not only supplying students in need with bikes but also promote bike riding as a sport and part of an active lifestyle. One of the first goals in this new development will be to offer a bike safety course that teaches rules and precautions for bike riding and will supply maps of local bike riding trails.
Opening up the Cyclone Cyclers as a way to promote an active lifestyle will also open up opportunities for grants. In doing so, the Cyclone Cyclers would be able to offer a weekend bike loan for students who want to get outdoors and take advantage of the community bike trails.
Stobaugh said the program was named Cyclone Cyclers because they see the program moving in the direction of adding a bike club to the Russellville High School which will benefit students who are already avid bike riders and would like to use their skills to teach others their love for riding and develop the community together. “We recently had a bike-to-school day, which was well attended,” said Stobaugh. “We want to continue and expand on that.”
Besides benefiting students who need a bike and students who are already avid bike riders, Cyclone Cyclers also involves engineering students. Jazz Johnson, science and engineering teacher at RHS, had an idea for developing a bike repair class as an alternative first-year engineering project and a way to get more students at RHS involved in the program. “Kids this age don’t always like to ask for things that they need,” said Stobaugh. “So if it’s more inclusive of larger diverse groups, they’re more receptive to the help, a way to bring together different groups of people.”
Crown Club members are active participates in the Cyclone Cyclers. You can find this group of students in the bike room cleaning and organizing, or out in the community raising awareness and funds for the program. Anytime items are needed to repair bikes, the Crown Club steps in to make sure the needs are met. Presently, the Crown Club is working on remodeling the bike room to resemble a bike shop in preparation for the next phase.
According to Stobaugh, a donation drive is in the works this coming spring for both bike donations as well as bike supplies. “We will post on social media that we are taking bike donations and where they can be dropped off,” said Stobaugh. “A work day is also on the agenda where community can help clean and repair bikes.” Helping with the bike drive or the work day is a way for civic organizations to earn service hours and increase community involvement.
Moving forward, the Cyclone Cyclers will be looking at distributing helmets along with the bike to address bike safety. If you are interested in donating to the bike program, whether it be a bike, helmet, repairs, or monetary gifts, contact Sarah Stobaugh, RHS Assistant Principal at 968-3151 or email at Sarah.Stobaugh@russellvilleschool.net.