By Jennifer Grimes

Triplicate staff writer

Students of Crescent City are rallying the troops to raise money for a community skateboard park.

On Saturday, April 28, citizens in support of building a skate park can rollerblade, ride a scooter or skateboard over to the Del Norte County Fair grounds to participate in a skate-a-thon.

Since it will be difficult to involve people in the actual construction of the skate park a la the wonderful community effort afforded by KidTown this may be the best venue for the community to join hands and support the newest addition to our proud community, said Joe Gillespie, sixth grade teacher at Crescent Elk.

Gillespie and his students are organizing the skate-a-thon as part of a service learning project. They hope to provide a service for the community while learning about the process of achieving a community goal.

Its the governments and the kids responsibility to build one (skateboard park) if we want it. The kids can raise money, said Bryan Opbroek, 12, of Gillespies class.

As part of the process, Gillespie is guiding his students through the organizational details. So far, the class has designed pledge sheets for participants to gather promises of money for each lap they skate in the skate-a-thon. Theyve secured the fairgrounds rollercade for the event and brainstormed on how to get business and corporate sponsorships.

Yesterday, the class was preparing a list of donated prizes to be awarded to skaters who raise the most pledges.

The event itself will go on between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Specific time slots will be assigned to specific age groups after all the entry forms are collected.

To participate, an entry form must be submitted and pledges must be collected.

The forms will be available at all Del Norte County schools, The Escape, Rhyn Noll Surf Boards, The Daily Triplicate, KCRE and KPOD offices. Forms should be returned to any of those places by April 10.

We hope that other groups will join us in our effort to put on this event. It would be nice to see civic groups, families, neighborhoods, classrooms, clubs, etc. form a team and see how much money they can raise for this, Gillespie said.

Beverly Noll, owner of Noll surf shop, is calling around to skateboard companies for donations of prizes. Donations of music, food and beverages for the event are also being sought.

Gillespie and his students had the idea of selling advertising spots on the skate-a-thon T-shirt. Business logos can be printed on the shirts for a $250 donation to the cause.

The class is also putting on a T-shirt logo contest. Artists may submit logos to the main office of Crescent Elk by April 2. The winner of the contest will get $50.

Helmets and pads will be required for participants of the skate-a-thon. Gillespie said he will try to have some safety equipment at the event for those who have none.

Prizes for people who gather lots of pledges may include skateboards, helmets, pads, scooters, rollerblades and more, Gillespie said.

Most of the students working on the fund-raiser said they are enjoying the process.

Its just, weve been in classrooms where all we did was stay in the classroom. This is a lot more fun, said Bobbi Culbertson,12.

Service learning is a dynamic teaching technique that empowers students to take action and become community leaders. This is an opportunity for the community to speak up and support our kids, Gillespie said.