New Ormond Elementary principal starts biking program, adds emphasis on awareness after attempted lure
To say Tucker Harris was stoked to learn that he would be starting his career as a principal at Ormond Beach Elementary would be a severe understatement.
Not only does he find the school charming and the students inspiring, but it’s also close enough to his home for him to bike. An avid mountain biker for 15 years, Principal Harris expected to be among many students who rode to school, seeing as they do not have a busing system.
"I just have a lot of fun on a bike,” he said. “Bikes have not been as part of our community as compared to other places. We need more people to respect it. It’s healthy for kids in terms childhood obesity. It’s cheaper. There’s just benefit after benefit.”
Because of his love for biking — and an effort to make the community more tight-knit —Harris is starting the Ormond Beach Elementary Shifters, a school bike club that will meet twice a month to ride to and from school with Harris himself.
During their inaugural meeting — which will be held at 7:15 a.m., Sept. 16 at the South Ormond Neighborhood Center — the Ormond Beach Police Department will fit helmets for kids and talk to them about safety and awareness.
On Monday morning, police reported that an OBE student was riding to school when two men tried to lure the child into their car. Thankfully, the child told them no and made it safe to school (see full story here).
“That incident changes the emphasis on this program,” Harris said. “There’s an importance of physical safety, like always wear a helmet, but it’s much deeper. We have to operate under the presumption that the kids haven’t been taught this stuff. I would much rather over teach them."
Principal Harris aired a video to all OBE students Tuesday afternoon to discuss the dangers of talking to strangers and what to do if someone approaches them. He hopes the Ormond Beach Elementary Shifters will promote a safe way to bike to school.
Students who participate in the club will have formal membership cards and be eligible for discounts on flat tires and other repairs at The Bike Shop, 39 S. Yonge St. Harris hopes this club will be the start of a more collaborative relationship with the city, local businesses and organizations.
"Schools traditionally ask for things, but we want to give back,” he said. “We want to promote Ormond and make it a better place to live.”
For more information on the OBE Shifters, call 258-4666.
Looking towards the future:
Eventually, Harris said he wants to be able to provide bikes for his students who can’t afford them. Ormond Beach Elementary is a Title I School, and 79% of students get free lunch.