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Community members award wheels for school attendance
Justin Loera

Twenty-nine elementary students earned their own wheels this month after achieving perfect attendance for the 2022-2023 school year. The Perfect Attendance Bike Program has been awarding bikes for over a decade to encourage students to attend school every day in Great Bend USD 428 elementary schools.

Assemblies were held at all five elementary buildings to celebrate the students’ accomplishment with their peers, teachers, and families.

At Riley School, Principal Beth Rein commented on how six of their classmates had earned their bikes.

“They have not missed one minute or second of school this year,” she said. “That is 164 days, or 62,976 minutes.”

For perfect attendance, students could not be absent or tardy. Some students came close; while they weren’t “perfect,” the principals also congratulated students whose attendance was “awesome.”

At Eisenhower Elementary School, Principal JoAnn Blevins asked each bike winner what he or she did to win the prize. After the third of six students answered, “I came to school every day,” the principal asked the audience, “Do you see a pattern? Coming to school every day is really important.”

A community effort

“Congratulations to the students who have stepped up to the challenges of grade school and have completed another successful school year,” said Karen Shaner, organizer of the Perfect Attendance Bike Program. “We would like to thank all the students for their hard work and dedication during the school year. We also want to thank those who make it possible for the students to be on time each day and not miss a day of learning.”

The effort is led by Shaner and Jane Isern, and is supported by a lengthy list of community donors. Walmart has been a consistent partner in the effort, providing assembly and storage for bikes in addition to financially supporting the program, Shaner said.

A unique addition to this year’s program was a custom CASE IH bike donated by KanEquip Inc. that is valued at roughly $500. Justin Loera, a fifth-grade student from Riley Elementary, was the lucky winner drawn out of all students in grades 4-6 who were eligible.

“This is an amazing program that honors our well-deserving perfect attendance students,” said Khris Thexton, USD 428 Superintendent. “We greatly appreciate the dedication of our students and families to accomplish perfect attendance. It takes a lot of work by students, parents, grandparents, and caregivers! We are fortunate to have such a great program and generous community sponsors to celebrate this notable accomplishment.”

Each student who achieved perfect attendance this year was awarded a bike. In addition, the Pilot Club of Great Bend provided a new fitted bike helmet to further their organization’s efforts to support brain safety and health.

“Our community is full of lots of generous people,” Blevins said, a sentiment echoed by principals at all five schools. In addition to attendance, a school rule at Eisenhower is “Be Safe,” she said, noting the importance of the helmet donations.

Here are the final results:

• Eisenhower Elementary – Six students qualified for perfect attendance.

• Jefferson Elementary - 11 students qualified for perfect attendance.

• Park Elementary – Two students qualified for perfect attendance.

• Lincoln Elementary - Six students qualified for perfect attendance.

• Riley Elementary - Six students qualified for perfect attendance.

Questions about the Perfect Attendance Bike Program can be directed the USD 428 District Education Center at 620-793-1500 or to Karen Shaner, community organizer at

2023 Bike Donors

Walmart of Great Bend; Jim Cavanaugh Bike Fund; Jim Cavanaugh and Stephanie McBride, Portland, Oregon; Midwest Energy Community Fund; Isern and Carpenter Law; Bauer, Pike, Bauer, Wary & Carroll & Gunn, LLC; Doris Spray; KanEquip Inc.; Dr. Tom Vernon; American Plains Co-op; Dr. Perry and Krista Smith; Damon and Donna Schloemer, Lakewood, Washington; Marmie Auto Group; Fred and Candace Nuss; Farmers Bank and Trust; Larry Kutina, DDS, and Anne Kutina; Joe and Loretta Southard; Watkins and Calcara Chtd.; Craig and Kari Smith; Ron and Kathy Straub; Gerald and Glenna Achatz; OPI-Office Products Inc.; First Kansas Bank; Jerry Ney; Darwin and Marty Schloemer; Dale and Karen Shaner; Don and Susan Young; Countryside Veterinary Associates; Club 1 Fitness; Mark and Leslie Mingenback; Stueder Contractors; Francis Financial Services Inc.; Dr. Jeff and Rhonda Brozek; Gregg and Maggie Reinhardt; Great Bend Children’s Clinic