Skate scene: Local elementary school has roller rink vibes with PE unit

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Roller skates are rented for a special unit at JB Stephens Elementary School.

Tom Russo | Daily Reporter

GREENFIELD – The gym at JB Stephens Elementary School has more of a roller rink vibe these days, complete with upbeat music and plenty of smiles.

Students have been trying out a roller skating unit in gym class, and teacher Erin Stevens says it’s as much a blast from the past as it is a timeless activity that teaches perseverance.

“It’s just an activity I did as a kid, and they can do together – a great family activity,” she said.

This is the second time Stevens has brought the program to the school. Two years ago was when she first rented roller skates, helmets and safety equipment and started teaching how to skate, first by practicing on a mat and then by rolling across the floor.

The program was popular two years ago, and many asked her to bring it back. Each kindergarten through third-grader gets five lessons in skating.

Stevens even teaches the right way to fall, bending their knees and leaning forward so they can get back up. She was pleasantly surprised at the carefree attitude most students have when they fall – not embarrassed, but determined.

“We just tell them to get back up and try again,” she said, adding that it’s a good lesson in school and life.

As a group of third graders finished up skating to “Happy” and “Dancing Queen,” they clapped together – making a loud click thanks to the wrist guards.

“I am so proud of you,” Stevens told them. “A lot of you are challenging yourselves and getting so much better. Keep up the good work.”

Principal Amy Sutton said when Stevens approached her about a roller skating unit, her nostalgia immediately kicked in with fond memories of skating with her family and friends growing up.

“I loved how she wanted to recreate that experience with our students,” Sutton said in an email. “We have a lot of students who have never been skating or even put on a pair of skates, so giving them this opportunity to participate at school is a great experience that will hopefully lead to a continued interest in skating or other sports.”