Christmas came a little early in December for 25 pupils of Bel Air Elementary School.
Thirteen boys and 12 girls received bicycles donated by Academy Sports in a mid-December school assembly as a reward for academic progress or good behavior.
"It's just something our company does," said Jeremy Goldman, an assistant manager of Academy Sports, which opened an Evans store in September. "Each store picks out a certain school in their area. It's just part of trying to build community relations."
Instead of rewarding academically high-achieving pupils, who already might be receiving many accolades, Bel Air Elementary Principal Mark Boyd said, he wanted to recognize pupils who are sometimes overlooked.
For pupils behind grade level, the school conducts Saturday tutoring sessions in reading and math.
Boyd wanted to highlight those children.
"We looked at some kids who made some really good achievement during those lessons and attended all the sessions," he said. "Their teachers nominated them and we called it 'Most Academically Improved.'"
More than that, Boyd wanted to recognize good pupils who were also good kids.
"We gave some of them (to pupils) who had been designated by teachers for as far as their good character and good citizenship," he said. "Those who were courteous and willing to go the extra mile."
Each bike also came with a helmet and a framed certificate, Boyd said.
During the giveaway, Boyd said parents were as appreciative as their children.
"That was more exciting; watching the parents, not the kids," he said. "Most of them had probably never seen their child get any kind of award like that."
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