RYLEIGH NORGROVE / THE CHRONICLE - Students at Yolanda Elementary School jump from their seats to cheer on BMXer Mark Rubio during the Go Green Live Clean BMX show on May 3.

The X Games aren’t until August, but Yolanda Elementary School students didn’t have to wait until then to see incredible stunts performed by professional BMX riders. They got it right on their own campus last week for the school’s first school-wide assembly in 18 months.

And given the weather, it might as well have been August.

The heat did nothing to diminish students’ enthusiasm though, as the Go Green Live Clean BMX pedaled into Yolanda for a show of awe-inspiring stunts mixed in with important lessons for the kids. The assembly was supported by the school’s Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program. 

Students at Yolanda Elementary School watch as veteran BMXer Mark Rubio soars above the tree line during the Go Green Live Clean BMX show, teaching students about standing up to bullying, bike safety and the dangers of drug use.

Michelle Lind is the behavior interventionist for Yolanda Elementary. “This program is a great way to address bullying, and we thought it would be good to bring in somebody that could actually do something along the district’s safe, respectful, responsible guidelines,” said Lind. 

This is the first school-wide assembly since the start of the COVID pandemic. That morning, Lind said some students were asking what an assembly was. “It’s funny, a lot of these kids have never ever been a part of an assembly. And so they didn’t even know what that word meant!” said Lind.

Riding around at Yolanda were Mark Rubio, a veteran BMX rider who took first place in the dirt bike competition at the American Patriot Festival in 2015, and Luis Hoyos, a Hollywood stuntman whose credits include the Tom Cruise/Cameron Diaz action film “Knight & Day.”

During the show, Hoyos did a variety of tricks ranging from standing atop his bike and riding with no hands, a pogo jump, and much more, all to the strains of Big Country’s “In a Big Country.”

Yolanda students are captivated by Rubio's moves on the bike.

“Luis is going to take us back to the 1980s right now,” Rubio said as the 1983 song started playing. “That’s a time when we had no ramps, skate parks, nothing like that. We just went to empty parking lots and had good times with our friends.”

Rubio recalled fondly his own experience watching a show similar to the Go Green Live Clean BMX in middle school. “Seeing those guys doing amazing tricks was really significant for me. It just blew my mind and also sparked my interest in BMX. ” 

When it was Rubio’s turn to perform some tricks, he chose the ominous punk sound of “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” by the Dropkick Murphys as his theme music. He did everything from a 180 to a nosedive to a wheelie, earning cheers from the young crowd.

In one highlight, numerous teachers volunteered to lay down on the blacktop for Rubio to jump over them with his bike. At first, Rubio would fake the crowd out by riding his bike toward the teachers and then leaping over them on foot. However, as more teachers joined by the third round, Rubio soared over them on his bike, and the crowd went wild.

In addition to the stunts, Yolanda students learned some life lessons. The show promoted everything from the importance of wearing a helmet, checking a bike’s tire pressure and brakes, staying in school and standing up to bullying.

Liam, a second-grader at Yolanda, said he learned, “To not do drugs, not smoke cigarettes and be careful on my [his] bike.” He also added that the show was “really awesome” and that he wants people reading this to “follow their dreams,” even though he “hasn’t decided what he wants to be when he grows up.” 

Fittingly, the show ended with the Wallflowers’ version of David Bowie’s “Heroes,” as students walked back to their classrooms likely thinking about what they saw and learned and possibly contemplating how they, too, could be heroes.

Educators had just as much fun as the students on May 3 watching Rubio perform.