Taking Flight

Taking Flight
Posted on 04/23/2019
Taking Flight

Hampden-Sydney’s Cycling Club and Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK) honor fraternity joined forces to raise over $5,000 to buy new bikes and helmets to reward hard-working students at Prince Edward County Middle School (PECMS).

David Fluharty and Andrew Howell standing in front of new bikes ready to be donated to local schoolAt the root of this idea was Cycling Club president Andrew Howell ’20, a biochemistry and molecular biology major who wanted to empower middle schoolers to develop strong study habits and positive behavior. “Middle school is a perfect place to start good habits in preparation for high school,” he said. David Fluharty ’19, Cycling Club vice president agreed adding, “So many students miss out on opportunities because they’re not motivated in high school, so we thought we could incentivize a good work-ethic early. We especially wanted to reach those who didn’t already have those good study habits in place.”

They devised a plan to reward middle school students with a ticket voucher every time they successfully turned in their homework or were recognized for good behavior. Prince Edward County Middle School principal Thomas Foster helped devise the details of the reward system so the competition would be fair for all students. Middle schoolers earned tickets from January to April, then entered them in a raffle drawing for a new bike at the end of the spring semester. The more assignments they completed, the better their chances of winning a bike. The Hampden-Sydney students even created an inspiring name for the program, based on the Prince Edward County Eagles mascot—called “Taking Flight.”

Middle school is a perfect place to start good habits in preparation for high school.

Cycling Club president, Andrew Howell '20

Students building new bikes to be donated to local schoolWith a plan in place, the Cycling Club needed to raise more funds than their budget would allow to make this program successful, so they contacted Sandy Cooke, director of civic engagement at Hampden-Sydney, who suggested a fundraising collaboration with Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK), a national leadership honor society at the College. Together, Andrew, David, and ODK president Hayden Gunn ’19 successfully raised enough money from the Hampden-Sydney community—over $5,000—to purchase 24 Schwinn all-terrain bicycles with accompanying safety gear. Hayden, an engineering physics and chemistry double major, enthusiastically stepped in to help contribute to the fundraising campaign saying, “Being a leader of leaders is a unique position to be in,” since it allowed him to bring leaders from many student organizations together for this project.

Finally, on April 18, PECMS students excitedly gathered to witness the raffle drawing and announcement of the winners. Twenty-four lucky (and hardworking) students—12 girls and 12 boys—took home brand new bikes and helmets. Said Sandy Cooke, “It has been a joy working with these Hampden-Sydney students and watching their ideas come to life while inspiring the children of Prince Edward County.”

Hampden-Sydney’s Cycling Club is only a few years old, but they already have a lot going on. They ride on- and off-campus at least once a week—on roadways and on Hampden-Sydney’s Wilson Trail, and they perform regular trail maintenance on the Wilson Trail. With assistance from director of outdoor adventure Scott Schmolesky, they hope to have a new bike rental program for Hampden-Sydney students up and running by next fall.

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 Andrew Howell, David Fluharty, Hayden Gunn and Jared Dunlap

Andrew Howell, David Fluharty, Hayden Gunn, and Jared Dunlap at Prince Edward County Middle School

 written by H-SC staff Kelly Dudley