Students in Raymond Crowell's physical education classes at Warrenton Middle School had an opportunity Monday to experience something different from their traditional in-school exercise activities: riding bicycles.

Crowell was the first teacher in Fauquier County public schools to complete a Virginia Health Department bicycle safety course, which certified him to teach bicycle safety in health and physical education classes.

Four other teachers and two employees from the school system also have completed the course and are certified to teach bicycle safety.

They are Donna Schirmer, a PE teacher at Smith Elementary School; Jimmy Pulchine, a strength coach at Fauquier High School; Steve Downs, an athletic trainer at Fauquier High; Philip Roper, a PE teacher at Fauquier High; Tammy Vetter, coordinator of the Teacher Resource Center; and Eric Dalton, a PE instructional coordinator.

The 12-hour "Bike Smart Basics Training" course covered such topics as types of bicycles, gears and shifting, safety techniques, proper helmet fit, bicycle control and interaction with traffic.

The course featured in-class instruction and on-the-road experience.

Warrenton Middle School is the only school in the county that has bicycles for student use. This past summer, thanks to a Bike Smart, Virginia! grant, the school system purchased 27 bicycles, helmets and other bicycle equipment for Warrenton Middle School students to practice and master safety skills that help to prevent bicycle-related injuries and fatalities.

The school's bicycle safety program will be taught in two- to three-week blocks in the fall and spring.

The bicycles were purchased with a Bike Smart, Virginia! grant.