Sitka Students Virtually Bike the World

March 20, 2017 | Kallie McCutcheon

“Go faster to finish in 20 minutes!” exclaims Ryan McCutcheon, principal and head teacher at Alaska's Sitka Adventist School, exuberantly, as students pedal briskly to reach their goal. Their goal is located across town in Mexico City, a place they might never travel in their lives, and it is simple: bike 2 miles within 20 minutes.

They are not, however, physically traipsing around the different neighborhoods of the ancient town, but merely looking at a video from someone who has actually ridden the route. Students are riding their own bikes, which are anchored securely to the ground with stationary bike trainers easily purchased from recreational outdoor retailers.

One of the students’ bikes is plugged into the main iPad, which controls the pace of the video. The faster they ride, the faster the video plays. All the other students have iPads to track their own progress and to ensure they successfully finish their 2 miles.

McCutcheon says it was initially hard to get students motivated to complete the required 2 miles within the stipulated amount of time, but the stragglers are finally catching on that this benchmark is not going away and they might as well succeed while doing it.

The money for this project was given to the Sitka Adventist School mostly due to the Don Keele Award grant Ryan and Kallie McCutcheon applied for in January 2016. After the money was awarded, the supplies were purchased and the setup complete.

Ryan McCutcheon worked with a local bike store to purchase most of the supplies. Students complete their 2 miles as soon as they arrive at school, and the bike riding gives them a chance to wake up and get moving in a weatherproof environment before starting on their math assignments for the day. It has become a routine enjoyed by students and teacher alike.

This physical wellness is key to holistic Adventist education. As 3 John 1:2 says, “My dear friend, I pray that everything may go well with you and that you may be in good health — as I know you are well in spirit.”