Montgomery — The seventh-graders work on their own time — before school or during lunch — to install brake pads, clean frames and fix flats on the old bicycles stored in the tech room.
And when the bikes are ready to roll and be given to needy children in the Town of Montgomery, the tech class pupils at Valley Central Junior High have gained something more than just learning how to fix things.
"I felt good about helping others," said 12-year-old Zackery Mathieu.
Mike Presutti's tech class has become an unofficial bike shop, a first-floor classroom that has cranked out 27 revitalized bikes this year alone thanks to the work of his pupils and the donations from several local stores. It's the project's second year.
The school guidance counselors match up kids with bikes.
"We started real small with an old Schwinn with a banana seat," said tech teacher John Van Fradenburgh, who works with Presutti at the school off Route 17K outside the Village of Montgomery. "When you deliver the bikes it's like playing Santa Claus. The parents who get them are in tears."
Wal-Mart in Newburgh and Vails Gate Cycle shop in New Windsor donated damaged bikes and boxes of cables, pedals, seats, pads, handle grips, water bottles and reflectors.
Fixing the bikes is great for teaching kids problem-solving skills, Presutti said. First, pupils check out a bike and compile a list of things to do, such as replacing bent wheel rims and installing new brake cables. They also learn about metric and standard tools such as Allen wrenches.
"It's fun to work with your friends," said 12-year-old Melissa Sokolinski.
The project has inspired a Pine Bush High School student to start a similar program at his school, Presutti said.
"I wish we had the before and after photos of the stuff that comes in here," Presutti said. "The kids really love to work on them."