HALEDON — It was, in more than one way, an elevating experience.
Students sat on the blacktop Friday, spellbound — their eyes glued to two performers who accelerated their BMX bikes toward a 15-foot quarter pipe and caught huge air before softly landing and cruising to an even higher altitude off of a second ramp.
The young audience burst with glee as the riders soared into the sky.
Teachers got in on the act, too, when they volunteered to lie down on the pavement and to have a rider jump over them on his bike.
But the show at the K-8 school on Henry Street also took on a more serious tone.
In between the aerial stunts, which included backflips, tailwhips and many other freestyle moves, the performers talked to the students about how they should respond to bullies and what safety equipment they are supposed to wear when they ride their bikes.
Lauren Cosgrove, the social-emotional learning counselor at the school, planned the event. She said it was the first in a series of assemblies the students will attend this year to teach them about positive choices.
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“The whole staff is very proactive in finding fun and new ways to motivate students,” Cosgrove said. “The anti-bullying message is important to us.”
The performers, Colin Akerman and Cory Berglar, represented Dialed Action Sports, a group from the Pittstown section of Franklin Township. Jadd Knox, a motocross pro from Paramus, emceed the event.
“Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something,” Knox said to the children.
Knox introduced the students to what he called the “three R’s” of anti-bullying: Recognize, refuse and react.
“To refuse them is to ignore them,” Knox said. “Don’t let them have any power over you.”
The BMX pros also showed the students that even experienced performers, like themselves, use protective gear. To demonstrate, Akerman and Berglar knocked on their kneepads and patted their helmets.
“These guys wear their helmets all the time, no matter what,” Knox said. “It doesn’t matter if they’re riding for five minutes or five hours — they always wear their helmets.”
Cosgrove said the students will attend an assembly next week by Breaking the Cycle, a New York-based group, whose speakers will discuss how they were able to overcome conflicts through forgiveness.
Philip DeVencentis is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.