Hard work rolls into skating program at Falcon Ridge

Falcon Ridge Elementary School third graders Alexa Miller, left, and Carver Meyer enjoy the use of roller skates in the gym. Their phy ed teacher Dan Wagner worked to get skates for Falcon Ridge and the other schools in the New Prague Area School District. To see more photos click on the blue button, lower right. (Patrick Fisher Photo)

Falcon Ridge Elementary School teacher Dan Wagner had a vision a year ago, of New Prague Area School District owning roller skates. Through hard work and support that vision has come true.

The school district now owns 129 roller skates, 50 helmets and 70 sets of pads (knee, wrist and elbow). First through fifth grade students at Falcon Ridge, Raven Stream and Eagle View elementary schools and St. Wenceslaus School use them.

Wagner, a phy ed teacher at Raven Stream, explained that before the schools rented its skates and students were asked to bring in money to roller skate for one week.

"After looking into it, I realized if we purchased the skates, pads, and helmets they would pay for themselves in about two years and we would no longer have to ask families to send money to rent the skates," said Wagner.

Wagner also had help from his fellow teacher Katie Herrmann, who also teaches phy ed at Falcon Ridge. They priced out equipment and contacted Jane Dittberner with the New Prague Area Education Foundation about a grant. They also contacted each of the Parent Advisory Committees (PAC) from the four schools. All of the groups showed great support and interest. Also helping was Falcon Ridge principal Dave Giesen, who was often the contact between the organizations making donations to the project and the phy ed department.

The skates go between the four schools. Wagner built the storage carts that the skates are transported in. He hopes to offer the skating class twice next school year.

"The skating unit is an awesome exercise and also builds school unity," said Wagner.

"We have students chipping in and helping each other. Fifth grade students come down during first grade phy ed time to help put skates on and tie them. It sends the fifth graders out with a great sense of pride."

As a physical education teacher, Wagner’s goal is to offer as many different activities as possible to the students. While they may not like every activity, his goal is to help students find one activity that they will continue to participate in for the rest of their lives, so they will live an active, healthy lifestyle.

Wagner said due to the help of everyone involved his vision has come to life. "The students love it," he said. "It was a lot of time consuming work from both Katie and myself, but when we see the smiles on the kids’ faces as they skate by us it is all worth it."