Students earn bicycles for perfect attendance (video)
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Jose Flores was giddy with excitement standing next to a shiny new blue-and-white bicycle.
"It's like we're famous," Jose, 9, said, while smiling back at his older brother Carlos, 11, who also received a free set of wheels Friday afternoon.
Thirty Hopkins Magnet Elementary School students were awarded the bicycles and helmets Friday for maintaining perfect attendance. The equipment was donated by Academy Sports and Outdoors.
"It's a chance for us to give back to our community," said store manager Kevin Patek. "And a great way to keep the kids active."
The names were drawn at random inside the elementary school's auditorium.
A widespread gasp rippled through the auditorium as the dark stage curtains were drawn to reveal the 30 new bicycles.
Principal Sulema Salinas called students up to the stage one by one, each receiving a loud clamor from fellow classmates who filled the star-spangled auditorium.
"It's all clean, and it came with a helmet, which I didn't have before," Jose said. "I can't wait to go for a ride with my brother."
The school secretary called parents to inform them of their child's new celebrity status and asked if they would need assistance transporting the bikes home.
"Our parents are probably going to scream out of excitement when they find out," Carlos said. "We've never shown up late to school."
Office clerk Frances Ortiz said she hopes this encourages an improved attendance rate.
Ortiz said, while the school has racks on its premises, she hasn't seen any bikes parked there this year.
"We have yet to break above 95 percent for our daily attendance this semester," Ortiz said as she was counting Friday's numbers. "It's something we're striving toward."