Woodmere Elementary unicycle team warms up for parade

SEE ‘EM RIDE, IN THIS VIDEO | See how a unique ‘physical education’ program rolls, at this outer East Portland grade school …

Along with the Woodmere Elementary School Unicycle Team are Rob Hill, adaptive PE teacher, coach Jim Stultz, (between unicycles in the back row) Vice principal Katherine Polizos, and PPS Superintendent PPS Guadalupe Guerrero.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

There are many forms of physical education and recreation provided for grade school kids. But the inimitable, and long-standing, “Unicycle Class” at Woodmere Elementary School in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood is unique.

Actually, these talented kids don’t stand at all, they roll – and in a big way. In fact, these unicyclists lead the Portland Rose Festival Junior Parade on June 8, riding along with its Grand Marshall, the Unipiper, perhaps Portland’s best know unicyclist.

A few days before that, students at Woodmere, along with East Portland News, previewed their abilities at an assembly held in the gym on June 3rd.

Woodmere fifth grade students – and unicycle riders – Jimmie and Jordan pose for a photo with their team coach, Jim Stultz.

The poignant thing about the gala parade performance was that this would be the last for their retiring P.E. teacher and Unicycle Club Coach, Jim Stultz, who had been preparing the team of kids for their parade ride since the start of the year.

“At the end of the school year I’ll be retiring after 28 years there at Woodmere, and 33 years overall in education,” Stultz announced before the assembly.

You’ll enjoy watching this video that shows the skills of these young unicycle riders, better than any photo can:

“What’s kept me here has been our great community and our staff,” remarked Stultz. “I’ve always felt like the school has been home for me; and our P.E. program is really supported by the parents and the administration, making this an easy place to work.”

He said the unicycle program came about after he stopped volleyball coaching – he’d built a championship-winning volleyball team at Clackamas High School. “I started riding a unicycle when I was 12, and I’ve been on them ever since,” Stultz recalled. “When I decided to bring this to my school, I started searching online, picking them up, one of the time, until I had 61 unicycles.”

Like dancing on unicycles, these kids demonstrate pair riding.

While he generally starts with the fourth and fifth graders, thje next to be given unicycles are third and second graders, Stultz said. “But, I’ve had some kindergarteners that have a lot of energy, they don’t mind falling, and are quick learners.

“Some kids learn in two weeks; for some kids it takes three years,” observed Stultz. “The lessons they learn are perseverance, physical coordination, and teamwork.

Look at this Woodmere student, riding the high unicycle!

“But, the most important thing is having fun,” Stultz quickly added. “It is so much fun for them; and it’s the most fun thing that I do,” he concluded as the show began.

Riding in groups, up and over ramps and teeter-boards – and even in the dark with glowing spokes and necklaces, the show, set to popular music, was astounding.

What’s next for Coach Jim Stultz? He wouldn’t say. But, we’d bet he’ll be doing it riding a unicycle.

© 2022 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™



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