During a special assembly held last Thursday morning, students from pre-kindergarten to fifth grade, received shiny new bikes, helmets, bike locks and T-shirts as a reward for winning a multi-media contest sponsored by Universal Surveillance Systems Foundation (USSF).
A non-profit organization, USSF is "dedicated to helping poor and less fortunate children have the tools, skills and knowledge to build a better life with a hope for a brighter tomorrow," the organization said.
This past October, USSF held its "Adopt-a-Bike" contest in which students from 25 schools, selected by the Foundation, posted creative multi-media projects online.
Once the projects were posted, family, students, friends, community members and faculty were asked to log onto the site to post comments and "like" the projects.
"It was a contest of creativity and originality as well as sheer numbers of posts and likes," noted Bruneau Elementary School Teacher Brandi Lisle.
"We were nominated by USS Foundation as part of 25 schools to participate in the contest. The district was notified, and the staff and students of Bruneau Elementary took it from there," she explained.
Some of the creative posts included a rap video written and performed by the Mills Family, who have two children currently in Bruneau, chants and songs by the classes from Bruneau, letters written to Bruneau Elementary from students, and countless creative posts and comments.
"Our support really played up that we are a rural school where kids work with their parents and are mostly cowboys and farmers, and very deserving of reward." Lisle said.
"It took a lot of work for you guys to get this. This is great to have the community support to make this happen," Bruneau-Grand View School District Interim Superintendent Dennis Wilson said during a brief address to students and their parents. "You know, something like this doesn't happen, typically, to small districts because you're always outnumbered by other schools that have more population. So this says a lot for Bruneau and the effort that was put in to have this happen for our students."
USS Foundation issued a press release last week explaining its organization's selection of Bruneau Elementary as one of the two finalist schools from across the country to receive new bikes through its Adopt-A-Bike program. The school was selected "because of the financial struggles of the student's families for basic necessities as a result of the current economic slump," the press release noted.
"The donation of bicycles will play an important role in helping the students achieve the education they need to succeed in life by providing a reliable way to travel to school and receive a needed education for a brighter future. In addition, the program also will demonstrate how much others care about them while giving them something under their tree," the news release went on to explain.
Brittney Post, program director for USSF, was on hand at last week's assembly to present the bikes. She gave a bio of USSF Founder and CEO Adel Sayegh. Raised in poverty, Sayegh and his nine siblings shared a one-bedroom apartment with their parents. His vision to start a company and give back to his community has expanded nationwide. This year, the foundation will donate a more than 390 new bikes to underprivileged children in California, Florida, North Carolina and Idaho.
Contributions to purchase bikes come from foundation supporters and donors. The bicycle helmets furnished to Bruneau Elementary School students were donated by St. Luke's Children's Hospital in Boise, Post said.
"So one of the things that our foundation is about is that we just want to inspire you to dream and to do good in school and always be a really good person," Post told the children.
Before handing over the bikes to their new owners, Post asked the students if they would make three promises. The answer was a resounding "Yesssss!" The children were encouraged to continue doing well in school, treat others kindly, and always believe in themselves.
The bikes had been set up in rows, smallest to largest, before the children entered the gymnasium. Their eyes widened with excitement as they spied their bikes for the first time.
Following the assembly, parents and faculty assisted the students in a brief spin around the school's track.
For some, like pre-schooler Mia Varela, it was their very first attempt at riding a bike.
As they circled the track a few spills, and minor collisions halted traffic. But the children simply picked themselves up, mounted their bikes and continued around the track. Smiles abounded, laughter was joined with "whoaaaa," and they enjoyed experiencing the rewards of their achievement.
As Wilson said: "Awesome, kind of sums it up."