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SCHERERVILLE — The principal and a teacher at Forest Ridge Academy rode onto the Erie-Lackawanna trail behind the school last week to cheers, whistles, applause and the fist-pumping soundtrack from the first "Rocky" movie to mark the first leg of their 100-mile ride through Lake and Porter counties.

Forest Ridge Principal Cindy Arnold and teacher Susan Bach pledged to ride their bikes 100 miles from Arnold's Highland home through the Erie-Lackawanna and Savannah Oak trails. The two raised money for STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) activities for students and professional development for teachers.

The pair pledged to raise at least $10,000 through an online campaign but by the day of the ride, May 22, had raised more than $13,000.

Both avid bike-riders, Arnold and Bach trained for months to get ready for the two-county journey.

The two arrived on the trail behind the school at 9 a.m. Arnold said they left her home at 6:03 a.m. The pair rode 30 miles along the Erie-Lackawanna trail for the first leg of their journey, Bach said. They reached the school in time for a quick pep rally with students who were outside on either side of the trail waiting for the pair to arrive and cheer them on.

"I said I'd be here by 9, and I am," Arnold shouted to the teachers and students gathered to applaud and give her the encouragement to keep moving.

"Boys and girls, we've raised more than $13,000," she said.

"That means all kinds of cool stuff for you guys. That means professional development for teachers and that's awesome. Let's give all of our students, teachers and families a big round of applause."

Inspired and inspiring

Arnold said she and Bach have been riding bikes for many years but never rode 100 miles before. She said the two did a 50-mile bike ride a couple of years ago, and began training for this ride in January.

Stopping to give high-fives to students and teachers, Arnold said it's the students who give her the enthusiasm to continue.

"We've been doing STEAM education for many years at the school but everything you learn today changes tomorrow, and you have to have money to train your teachers and buy the supplies that you need for students. We're just trying to stay on top of things," she said.

"Sue Bach and I really wanted to do this. No pain, no gain. I'm 62, and I'm a grandma. We wanted to show the kids this is possible, and that you just have to keep reaching for the stars," she said.

Eighth-graders Mason Cooper, Jovan Okoro and Adam Akan were standing together cheering the principal and teacher on.

"This is really cool," Okoro said.

Akan said he loves riding his bike though he's not sure if he'd want to do 100 miles at one time.

Third-grader Maiyah Lewis said, "I could ride my bike that far if I had a lot of water bottles."

Third-grade teacher Dana Moynihan said teachers appreciate the efforts to raise money for STEAM education.

'We've had maker spaces for a couple of years and the students love them," she said.

"It's a chance for kids to get their hands dirty and build things, use the Legos and create art projects of their own. Six of us (teachers) are going to Las Vegas this summer for a STEAM conference, and we're all excited about that.

"I've had my students look at maps and look at the route Mrs. Arnold and Mrs. Bach are taking. It's pretty impressive," Moynihan said.

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Southlake County Reporter

Carmen is an award-winning journalist who has worked at The Times newspaper for 20 years. Before that she also had stints at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., The Post-Tribune and The News Dispatch in Michigan City.