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Perfect attendance rewarded
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Twenty-one students from Great Bend will have new bicycles to enjoy this summer as a reward for their excellent school attendance.

Each year, a group of local donors underwrites the Bike Giveaway to encourage perfect attendance. Four bicycles were delivered to each of Great Bend USD 428’s five elementary schools. Students who didn’t miss any school and had no tardies for the year were entered into a drawing for the bikes. 

The first drawing was held Monday afternoon at Jefferson Elementary. Karen Shaner and Jane Isern, representing a group of many donors, delivered the bikes and watched as they were awarded to Kade Thexton, a second grader, and to Cody Karst, Eliana Teri and Carson Umphres, all sixth graders. 

Twelve Jefferson students were eligible for the drawing. Twenty-nine more Jefferson students had near-perfect attendance.

Drawings were held Tuesday afternoon at two more schools.

At Lincoln, the winners were Brynlee Snook, kindergarten; Jace Isaac, first grade; Hanna Holinde, fourth grade; and Brantley Vtescka, fifth grade, drawn from the names of 12 students with perfect attendance. An additional 51 students missed four or fewer days of school.

At Riley, fifth graders Madison Gaddis and Rachael McReynolds, sixth grader Mayra Gonzalez and preschooler Mila Scott all received bikes for their perfect attendance. They were the only four students at their school with perfect attendance. Four others with near-perfect attendance were given prize packages from the school.

The final two drawings will be held Wednesday morning at Park and Eisenhower.

Shaner and Isern said they’ve seen the number of students with perfect attendance grow over the seven years this program has been offered. When they first started, there were only one or two students with perfect attendance at some schools, and a mere handful at others. They started with two bikes to give away at each school and have now upped that number to four, and wish they could do more.

Wednesday morning, after all of the schools have had their ceremonies, they will draw names again and one more student from the names of all who were not picked in the first round will receive a bicycle.

Donors spent $4,300 on 20 Trek-brand mountain bikes and one small girl’s bicycle with training wheels for Mila Scott. After she won her bike Tuesday, she pedaled across the Riley School gym to her dad, who was there to watch the ceremony.

Great Bend USD 428 Superintendent Khris Thexton attended the drawings.

“This is a great program put on by our community,” Thexton said Monday, noting that many people donated and recognize that perfect attendance is “pretty special. It’s fun to see the kids’ faces because they are pretty excited for winning a bike for coming to school. You can’t beat that.”

Additional reporting and photos by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune.