DRACUT — A dizzying convoy of bicycles — about 300 of them — circled Lakeview Junior High School on Oct. 9.
“Slow down. Careful,” teachers admonished fifth- and sixth-grade students from the Englesby Junior High School next door. “There’s water at the tables if anyone wants some.”
The eighth annual Wheel-A-Bration was under way. Students were challenged to complete as many laps around the building as they could in one hour. At 25 cents a lap, it adds up. Last year, the two-hour event brought in $51,000.
It is the Englesby PTO’s only fundraiser of the year. The money is used to purchase computers and smartboards for the classroom, and pays for activities for the students throughout the year. Twenty-percent of the money raised goes to the PTO and enables the group to fund a wish list that includes end-of-the-year activities, guest speakers, recognition events, assemblies and material for an anti-bullying program.
“It provides everything we need,” said PTO president Judy Ryan, as children dropped off their bikes to be registered and inspected by a Human Powered Vehicle team from Olin College of Engineering in Needham.
“We came by to help out,” said Pam Darvirris, an Olin student. “The motivation for us to be here is building bridges with the community.”
After registration, the bikes were brought into the Englesby gymnasium, where they remained until the event kicked off. Nicole Hoffman, sporting a custom-made chopper, got admiring looks from her classmates as she wheeled her bike into the gym. Her dad, Phil Hoffman, owned the bike as a young boy.
“We went on the Internet and looked for new parts,” he said. “It took us a while but we got the thing looking as good as new.”
Students were treated to hamburgers and hot dogs as Dracut Police Officer Jon Gosselin gave the students a lesson in bike safety. Englesby School Principal Robert Young looked on, chatted with parents, and directed students coming and going.
“It’s my belief that when parents know the goal of a school fund-raiser, they will be more supportive and generous,” Young said. “We’ve built up a great deal of credibility over the years with the Wheel-A-Bration fundraiser.”