Worthington's Granby Elementary School encourages an outdoor activity most schools cannot.
Rick Armstrong, the wellness and physical-education teacher who designed the trail, said Gators Bike Park, a mountain-bike trail that opened behind the school in 2013, has undergone a number of improvements but still gives young enthusiasts a chance to "shred" – ride at a high level, in bike parlance.
He said volunteers built a two-lane wooden bike bridge and other improvements, while keeping the trail "kid friendly," during a recently completed second phase of the project.
"We wanted to provide a bike trail that allows young riders and new beginners a place to build basic trail-riding skills," he said. "We feel this park is perfect for elementary- and middle school-aged kids, all the way down to pre-K riders on balance bikes."
The trail is open to riders of all ages from dawn to dusk year-round, but it is closed on rainy days.
"We ask that riders stay off the trails if they are muddy," Armstrong said. "Riding muddy trails does a tremendous amount of damage to the riding surface and, in return, causes hours of repair work by volunteers."
Principal Patti Schlaegel said she loves having a bike trail at the school.
"It gives students a unique opportunity to be introduced to mountain biking at a young age during the school day," she said.
She said students ride the trail during physical-education classes, recesses and after school to develop their biking skills.
"The wide range of features throughout the bike park allow students to choose their own adventure and try new things, as they become more comfortable with their abilities," she said.
Schlaegel said one of the "Granby virtues" is perseverance.
"Our students continue to try and try again until they experience success with the challenges provided to them," she said. "The bike park provides another dimension to educating the whole child."
Armstrong said the second phase of the trail gives riders a "roller-coaster" feel with hilly ups and downs. He referred to it as a "flow trail" -- a biking term for a path that includes banked turns, rolling terrain, jumps and predictable surfaces, and the bike bridge adds to that experience, he said.
Powell resident and Village Academy graduate Ryan McLoughlin, an Eagle Scout, raised the funds to purchase all the materials for the two-lane wooden bike bridge, which connects the first-phase skills loop of the trail to the new phase's flow trail, Armstrong said.
Armstrong said the lumber for the bridge cost $500, but the other materials and all the labor were donated.
"Under the leadership of the Gators Bike Park head construction crew, Jim and Carolyn Rogers, the two-lane bike bridge is now operational," he said.
Jim Rogers is a carpenter by trade.
The bike trail was designed to get children moving as an alternative to screen time, Armstrong said.
"Following the model of what gives video games such an addictive lure, we wanted to provide progressive challenges the kids can keep working toward," he said. "We want features that excite the littlest wee 'shredder,' and we want to provide a few features that get the heart pumping for the more advanced 'rippers.' "
He said students are eager to try all aspects of the trail.
"We build it, the kids conquer it and we go back to the design board for the next feature," he said. "We currently are raising funds for the purchase of two wood-banked berms for the flow trail.
"This will allow riders a slingshot of momentum as they head back up some of the hills."
People who want to contribute should email Armstrong at email@example.com.
Schlaegel said the bike park appeals to students who might not choose to participate in other wellness activities, such as team sports.
"A student who has a love for the outdoors may be motivated to get out and ride because of the natural setting provided in the bike park," she said.
Armstrong said the trail is checked and inspected monthly to make sure it is in safe condition for visitors.
As an avid mountain biker himself, he said, he is thrilled to share his interests with students.
"One of the most gratifying aspects of the bike park is watching the vast improvements gained in riders after working with them for a few days," he said. "Watching the kids reach personal goals and the excitement that comes with it never gets old."