Photo: Argenziano School 5th grader Caleb Piehl (center) shows off the artwork that won first prize in the Saris National Bicycle Poster Contest. His art teacher Diana Taremi (left) admires the poster’s bright colors and physical education teacher Kristi Savage and Somerville Police Officer Maryanne Manfra talk about how learning to ride bicycles is part of the school’s physical education curriculum
Students at Somerville’s Argenziano School will be enjoying a 20-slot bicycle parking rack complete with a mileage tracking system this spring thanks to classmate 5th grader Caleb Piehl and his artwork.
Caleb Piehl won first place in the Saris National Bicycle Poster Contest; winning the local Massachusetts contest first and then the national competition with a colorful drawing of a boy enjoying his bike ride, under the hashtag #LongForTheRide.
Grinning widely, Caleb Piehl lifted his arms in victory at a special assembly in his honor Wednesday, Dec. 16 in the school’s cafeteria, as Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone praised his colorful winning entry and classmates from the 5th and 6th grades applauded.
“Color, color,” Caleb said as he inspected his first place prize of a new Schwinn bicycle, a helmet and a bike light. He will attend the National Bike Summit in March in Washington, DC as part of the prize package. The Saris Hub, a tracking system that records riders’ miles, will be installed later.
(Photo: Argenziano School 5th grader Caleb Piehl celebrates after learning he won the Saris National Bicycle Poster Contest; his prize, a new Schwinn bicycle, a helmet and bike light; the prize for the school; a 20-rack bicycle parking system that can track users’ mileage. Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone (left) and Massachusetts Department of Transportation pedestrian and bicycle coordinator, admire the shiny silver bike)
“I’m excited to be here,” said Mayor Curtatone. “I know the importance of bicycling and staying active and healthy.”
He said the city promotes active lifestyles and is in the process of ensuring Somerville is a bicycle-friendly community, one that actively promotes citizen health and well-being.
Argenziano School is one of the first in the country to integrate bicycling into the physical education curriculum, said Principal Barbara O’Brien. Youngsters in the fifth grade have been learning to ride bicycles in gym class for almost a decade through the non-profit Cycle-Kids program with physical education teacher Kristi Savage and Somerville Police Officer Maryanne Manfra.
“I know how important it is to kids when they finally learn to ride the bicycle,” said Ms. O’Brien. “There are days when kids burst into my office to announce: I did it! I rode the bike,” she said.
Peter Sutton, bicycle and pedestrian safety coordinator for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and a Somerville resident attended the special assembly for Caleb. Argenziano School is also a partner of the state’s Safe Routes to School program.
“Bicycling is the easiest, fastest, most enjoyable way to get around,” he said after telling the crowd how easily he commutes between Winter Hill and his job in downtown Boston. “It takes me less than 25 minutes on my bicycle and cometimes as long as 45 minutes when I drive.”
Mayor Curtatone, who promotes the livability of Somerville, believes every child who wants a bicycle should have one.
“We’re so proud of Caleb and our entire school’s efforts in the areas of wellness, physical activity and safe biking that is reflected in Caleb’s poster,” said Ms. O’Brien. “We are proud of the collaboration of our staff in this area as well as the quality of our art instruction.”