Burrus Elementary students read their way to new bikes

HOUSTON — It's felt like it for weeks, but Thursday is actually the first official day of summer and the longest day of the year.

All the more daylight to enjoy these brand new bikes for the kids here at Burrus Elementary.

“They've worked really hard to achieve [good] grades, so what you see behind us is many bikes for those students who have really worked hard,” Tanya Debose said.

The Independence Heights Development Council and Citgo have partnered with Changing Young Children's Lives through Education, or CYCLE for short. They've purchased, assembled, and are distributing these bicycles to 50 third graders at Burrus.

“We get with the school, who get with their students, and get with their parents and come up with a contract in which they all agree they're going to do a reading proficiency program,” Jeff Schick of CYCLE said.

Upon completion of the program, and having passed the STAAR test, the students are outfitted with a helmet to protect those big brains! Then they get to pick their bike, and get it customized to their own height.

The focus on literacy is intentional. One statistic the organization's point to is that only 37% of third graders in Houston ISD met Texas reading standards in 2013.

That wasn't the case this year with these kids.

“I could not be more proud of them," Houston City Council Member Karla Cisneros of District H said. "It's still early in the summer. They'll get to use these bikes before the school year starts again, and I’m so proud of them."

Citgo volunteers helped put the bikes together but also helped out the community in a big way after Harvey.

“To help restore homes for more than 300 families, who have been in this neighborhood for many many years, is very important to us. It allows for families to remain in the community and build a rich history and legacy of Independence Heights,” Debose explained.

And after a chaotic school year of hurricanes and ice storms, all that stress takes its toll on education. But these kiddos still managed to keep their nose in a book and earn those wheels.

Hopefully, they will use these new bikes to ride to and from the library— that summer reading list isn't going to read itself!