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Wrenshall News: Students learn bike basics


May 21, 2021

My son Truman came home last week talking about his class at Wrenshall riding bikes during Derek Duncan’s gym class. “The purple bikes are the big bikes and they have hand brakes and everything.”

The past two weeks a host of bikes have been used by students to practice riding skills and the basics of cycling maintenance.

I called Duncan, as I was curious about the program and in awe of how he manages to corral so many children on wheels: “I think it is such a great thing to learn — it’s a life skill. Kids from all different backgrounds learn safe practices on a bike. The younger grades learn the real basics — how to safely cross a street — but the fourth- through sixth-graders learn how to change a flat tire and put a chain back on.”

Meghann Levitt of Carlton County’s Health and Human Services department manages the program that brings the bikes to schools. The fleet of 40 bikes began through a Minnesota Department of Transportation grant in 2013 and includes extra materials such as cones, stop signs, pumps and parts to help with curriculum implementation.

The fleet is available for paid rental to community groups and organizations during the summer.

The rental proceeds go toward upkeep in order to keep the resource free for schools. Recently, volunteers from local high school mountain bike teams have been providing some general maintenance.

The Wrenshall High School spring play debuted last week. This year, Ted Conover and his students had to get creative, considering pandemic restrictions made live theater next to impossible. Their three-act play, “Myth-Understandings,” opened on May 13 via YouTube. It is delivered like an old-time radio drama or a modern-day podcast. It features an unconventional look at Greek gods and goddesses — the Greek inventor Daedalus comes to life as a contractor from Brooklyn; and Harmonia, the goddess of harmony, appears as the host of a Dr. Phil-style talk show.

These types of scripts don’t really exist for kids, Conover said. The script was written by artist and playwright Luke Moravec of Duluth. He has been featured on Minnesota Public Radio’s “Art Hounds” podcast for his original escape room concept called “Professor Prank.” He wrote the “Myth” script specifically for the theater club, also known as the Wrenshall Stage Guild.

Copnover continued. “Let’s face it, this year has been the pits. It’s been so difficult for students and teachers to be apart. The production of “Myth-Understanding”’ was an absolute blast. The positive energy kids brought to their roles was infectious and afternoon rehearsals were something we all looked forward to. Even though we were in different places physically, we were able to create a tight community of creatives.”

Folks can laugh (or groan) from the comfort of their living room. You can find the link to the YouTube production on the Wrenshall Facebook page or website.

The students involved in the production are Olivia Aldridge, Natylee Anderson, Liam Bruce, Pidge Echdahl, Briar Fernquist, Sage Fernquist, Milena Kacer, Natalya Kacer, Kaya Stark, Birk Stensaas, Haley Soumala, Lexi Swanson and Rilee Wolfe.


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