Jefferson Elementary School physical education teacher Nan Schuchman (left) stands with Jefferson Principal Carla Allen. They are promoting the new Rotary Success Cycle program, which uses bicycles to help boost attendance during the 2016-17 school year. 
The photo was taken during Jefferson Elementary School's Back to School Night, Aug. 16.
- By Chip Minty, Norman Rotary Club
     The first step to being successful in school is showing up.
     Encouraging good attendance is a priority at Norman Public Schools because poor attendance leads to poor test scores and higher dropout rates.
     That is why Norman Public Schools and Norman’s Noon Rotary Club have partnered to initiate The Rotary Success Cycle, a program that rewards students just for coming to school each day.
     The program, which involves nine Norman schools, entices students to be consistent in their attendance to improve their chances to win bicycles through the school year. The better their attendance, the better their chances of winning a bike.
     Students who attend five days out of a week have their names added to their school’s drawing. The more weeks with perfect attendance, the more times their names are added to the hat. The schools will hold drawings after each nine-week period during the 2016-17 school year.
Norman’s Noon Rotary Club is sponsoring the program through nearly $10,000 in funding for the purchase of 66 bicycles. Each of the winning students will also receive a bicycle helmet and a bike lock.
     Participating schools include Kennedy, Wilson, Madison, Jackson, Adams, Lincoln, Jefferson, Reagan and Dimensions Academy South. The program involves more than 3,000 students in grades K through five.
     Noon Rotary President-elect Craig Heaton said the club is investing in the program to help children establish a stronger academic footing while in elementary school. But that is not the only reason.  The program also is intended to help the schools achieve attendance rates required for state and federal funding. Schools must achieve 95 percent attendance to be eligible for funding, and schools selected to participate in The Rotary Success Cycle program tend to be on the borderline of that requirement.  
     “We borrowed The Rotary Success Cycle idea from a similar program created by a Rotary club in Texas,” Heaton said.  The club met with district officials, who helped design the rules specifically for Norman schools and students. 
“It’s an exciting initiative and another great opportunity for us to contribute to the community,” Heaton said. “Through this first-year program, we hope to improve attendance, raise test scores and make a difference for schools that could use a shot in the arm at a challenging time.”
     “Besides all of that,” Heaton said, “We are going to give a bunch of bikes to kids who will really enjoy them, and that’s important too.”
      The bikes are being displayed at each of the schools through the school year. Signs accompanying the displays were created and donated by FastSigns of Norman. 
Al’s Bicycles of Norman assisted the Rotary Club by providing the 67 Haro brand BMX style bicycles at a discounted price. The Norman Police Department contributed about a third of the bicycle helmets that will be given away during the school year.