-  W.L. Henry students get new bicycles, thanks to Poynter Middle School club

There are some proud bicycle owners in Hillsboro who will be happily hopping on their new wheels and heading for school Monday morning.

Twenty-one W.L. Henry Elementary School students were the recipients of bikes through the Washington County Bicycle Transportation Coalition’s (BTC) Adopt-a-Bike program. Those students received their bikes Dec. 19, just before the Hillsboro school dismissed classes for the winter break.

Throughout the fall, Washington County BTC solicited funds for Adopt-a-Bike, in which every $75 in donations translated to a child receiving a refurbished bicycle, a helmet, a bicycle lock and a two-hour bicycle skills clinic.

The bikes given to W.L. Henry students were a combination of the efforts of several community partners.

New bicycles were donated by television station KPTV-12 and a dozen bicycles were refurbished and donated by the Poynter Middle School Bike Club, an after-school club headed by the school’s custodian and bike mechanic extraordinaire, John Sarrazin.

Students at W.L. Henry wrote short essays about why they deserved to win a bike, and kindergarteners drew pictures.

“I am a great student and I always work, pay attention and answer a lot when [my teacher] asks a question about our lesson,” wrote Kaylee, a fourth-grader.

“I should be chosen because I could go home fast from school ... my babysitter won’t be worried about me ... and it would be exercise for my legs,” said Junior, a fifth-grader.

Fourth-grader Jacob explained: “I would ride my new bike to school every day and go on bike rides. I would take really good care of my new bike if I got one. Also, I would use hand signals, be safe, and wear a helmet.”

Tim Mitchelldyer manages the Washington County BTC’s downtown retail shop on Northeast Third Avenue.

“W.L. Henry is a non-transportation school,” Mitchelldyer said.

All students who attend W.L. Henry either walk, ride a bike or get to school another way without bus transportation.

“We saw that as an opportunity,” Mitchelldyer added, “for the BTC to do what it does best: Get bicycles into the hands of youngsters who need them.”

It was a whirlwind hour that morning at W.L Henry, Mitchelldyer noted. BTC volunteers, Poynter Middle School Bike Club members, school staff and 21 very excited W.L. Henry students all gathered for the bike giveaway.

Each of the 21 students was fitted with a helmet, then assisted by a Poynter Bike Club student in picking out a new bike. That afternoon, those students rode home on their new wheels.

Later this year, Mitchelldyer said, those students will go through a bike safety course.

As for the Poynter Bike Club members, it was a valuable lesson in giving and community service. The students in Sarrazin’s bike club learn valuable skills in bicycle repair and maintenance.

Attending this event let them see how their skills and hard work are helping others in the community, said Detective Emory Souza, Poynter’s School Resource Officer.

“They had a sense of giving and gave back to the community,” Souza said. “That’s all they talked about when they got back to school.”

This coming spring, the middle schoolers will return to help the younger students with the bicycle safety clinic.

Souza has helped the bike club partner with the Hillsboro Police Department to get abandoned bikes to Poynter for refurbishing and donation. If the owner of a stolen bike cannot be identified and the bike’s value is less than $100, the bike is donated to the club, he said.

The result is a win-win partnership between the police department and the bike club: students get bikes to work on and the police can clear out their bicycle holding pen on a regular basis.

The Washington County BTC Adopt-a-Bike program is ongoing, Mitchelldyer said, and cash donations in any amount are welcome. Find more information online at

Used bicycles can also be donated at the BTC retail store, 137 N.E. Third Ave. in Hillsboro.

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