As they gained more confidence on their feet, Crothersville Elementary School fourth- and fifth-graders moved farther away from mats in the center of the gymnasium.

By the fifth and final week of Skatetime, most of the students were outside the orange cones gliding along with ease.

Roller skating was a new activity for physical education class. Money from a school fund covered the cost of skate and wrist guard rental, making it free for the 55 students participating.

“As far as PE curriculum, you kind of get in a rut of kickball, tag,” said PE teacher Greg Kilgore. “There are so many different things you can do, but this is something brand new that we’ve never done and new to me and I hadn’t watched them do. It’s kind of neat to see them do something different.”

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Principal Chris Marshall saw where Brownstown Elementary School has done Skatetime for the past seven years and contacted company officials to bring the program to Crothersville.

They obtained roller skate sizes, had permission slips signed and set up the time to conduct the program.

A Skatetime School Programs representative attended the first session to help the kids get used to the skates and explain the wrist guards. They also told them the best way to fall, how to get up after a fall and not to touch or push each other.

Students new to roller skating stayed around the mats at first. Then they could move out a little more and skate within the orange cones. Once they felt comfortable on the roller skates, they could go outside the cones.

“I liked seeing some of the kids who started and really were almost afraid to stand up on the skates progressed to now where they are actually moving outside of the cones and trying to go at an even faster pace,” Kilgore said.

He was surprised to learn that many of the students had skated before.

“A lot of them have said there are some similarities between ice skating, rollerblading and roller skating,” he said.

Fourth-grader Zoe Kinworthy said she had skated at Rok-Sey Roller Rink in Seymour, while classmate Tyson Mains had been to Scottsburg Rollerdrome.

“A few years ago, I used to skate at Rok-Sey in Seymour, but I always fell down because I was so young,” Zoe said.

She said it was great to lace up the roller skates again.

“I learned a couple of new things here, but from roller skating a lot when I was younger, I became better,” she said. “I like the feeling like you’re gliding. It’s sort of like you’re on air or like you’re surfing, something like that.”

Tyson said he was able to pick it back up pretty well, too.

“It increases our abilities of being balanced and swift on our feet,” he said.

After about 30 minutes of skating, many of the students were sweating.

“I would say it’s working a different muscle group than they are used to using a lot of times in gym class, as well,” Kilgore said.

For the students who met a certain goal, their teacher gave them the incentive of skating for an extra period.

“Instead of recess or art class, she would bring them down and let them skate,” Kilgore said. “Their teacher said they noticed some improvement in some of their behaviors and even some of their classwork trying to earn the right to come and skate more.”

He was glad to see Skatetime be a success.

“The kids have really loved it,” Kilgore said. “I would say it will be something we’ll keep doing on an annual basis.”

On the Web

Skatetime School Programs provides schools with the equipment and tools they need to get students up and rolling.

Schools schedule a five- or 10-day block of time and provide shoe sizes for students. Parents sign a permission slip and pay a rental fee.

Skatetime sends a step-by-step how-to guide, including lesson plans, an instruction manual and a free video.

If a school is offering Skatetime for the first time, a skate instructor helps with setup and organization of the equipment and will stay the entire day and give basic instruction to each class.

For information, visit skatetime.com.

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Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.