the antioch school in yellow springs, ohio

Wow, what a day off I had today. I have heard about this school many times over the years but not much recently. I used to see them in parades and such 15 or 20 years ago but, again, not much recently. Then this past weekend someone gave me a flyer about the school and the information talked about the use of unicycles in the programs. So, I drove to the school today on my day off to find out more about what was going on.

When I pulled into their driveway I noticed their school sign had a unicycle in it. The “o” in Antioch was a wheel of a unicycle and they had a bear riding it. As I parked my car I saw an older garage type building and could see twenty some unicycles hanging from the ceiling. When I went in the front door there were four 5 foot unicycles and a 7 foot unicycle by the entranceway. Then I saw on the wall down the hallway another two dozen unicycles hanging on posts.

They do not have a school principal, they have a school manager. When I asked her who the adult leader was for the unicycles and who taught the kids how to ride…she said the children teach each other! This has been going on for years. Hardly anyone was around as almost the whole school was out on field trips. How about next Tuesday, my next day off? The school manager said 11:45 would be a good time to see them after lunch and during their free time. So, that is the next part to my adventure.

Meanwhile, if you get a minute. Look up the Antioch School in Yellow Springs. They are on Corry Street. Check out their bear riding a unicycle in their logo. Tell me what you think. Are their other schools like this?

Former Antioch School Student …


Thanks for posting this about the Antioch School. I grew up in Yellow Springs and was a student at the school in the 1980s, and learned to ride while there. Antioch is a special school, and not just because of the unicycling aspect. It is true that the students taught (and I guess continue to teach) themselves how to ride; I remember it as being a part of the mission of the school to instill independence in each student. In fact, I’m not sure I can remember more than one teacher who could ride.

When I was enrolled there was a large covered area in the front of the school outfitted with grab bars along the walls and window, and I remember starting off there. Learned to ride on a 20" and also learned later to ride a giraffe model that the school had. From what I remember, virtually every one of my classmates learned to ride, and it was a big part of being an independent young student at this unconventional school.

A year or so ago my kids were with me in a bike shop in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where we now live. They saw a unicycle for sale, and urged me to get it. I hadn’t been riding in 25 years, but after two false starts was able to get right up. About a day later I found this website, and soon thereafter found UDC and bought a Nimbus 26"; I’m now looking at adding at 29" to the crowded garage. Funny how you never forget how to do certain things; getting back on the unicycle reminded me of Antioch, and the things I learned there, including unicycling.

Again, thanks for your post - it brought back a lot of memories.

Christian Haugsby

Really interesting post. There used to be another school in Ohio that encouraged unicycling; St. Helen’s catholic school in Newbury. I used to see them all the time in parades but I believe it all ended years ago when the parish priest who started it retired. I wonder if Antioch was inspired by St. Helen’s?

St. Helen’s is having a reunion!

It looks like the St. Helen’s unicycle group is having a reunion. I don’t know how long it has been since the group was functioning but it is neat to see they want to get together and share some of their old stories.

I was probably just a half hour from there for a number of years in the 80’s. Sadly, I was just getting into the unicycle then and did not ever go over to visit them. Rats!

Thanks for posting that link!

Did you look at some of the facebook pages of those listed as going to the reunion? Many have photos of them as adults still riding and old ones as kids at the school. It must have been a great time being part of the school.

St. Helen school is just a few miles away from where I live and I’m often asked by people that see me riding if I went to school there. Wish I had…

The first link above with the picture of them as adults riding in the parade is from this year’s “Maple Festival” in Chardon where I live.

one week later…

I went back today and had a great visit. They were outside for about 45 minutes of recess and I was able to ride with nine or ten of them…and one was on a five foot giraffe unicycle! I saw the bars all along one side of the building. Eighty feet worth of bars!!! And on the end of the building they have some taller bars for the kids to use for the giraffes. They also have a series of poles they ride to and back and forth on. It was all quite amazing.

I might as well have been a unicorn. They said over and over comments like “I have never seen an adult ride” and “I cannot believe an adult can ride” and “Your seat is so high…I have never seen anyone with such long legs ride a unicycle” and “How DID you ever learn to ride?”

It was fun to show the teachers the post from chaugsby. They kept saying “Oh Christian! We remember him.”

They have a little narrow walkway around their playground and it is a bit bumpy but it provides a nice challenge for the better riders. Everyone was very welcoming and I hope to go back another time. Maybe next school year as they finish on June 1st and I have a busy May ahead of me.

One other interesting thing is how the kids have developed their own set of words to describe what they are doing. When one saw me free mount she said “Oh! You can get on from the air.” Another one asked me if I could just “stay in one spot”. I showed her my idle and she said “Yes, that’s it!” A favorite game was when they would hold a hand together and do the “three leaf clover”…or “the four leaf clover” (depending on how many were involved). These were like pinwheels. And when one gal was riding around on her five foot unicycle she said “you are good enough that you could ride a five footer”. I told her I had a giraffe unicycle at home but it was a six footer because of my longer legs. “Ohhhhh!” she said in amazement.

a blogger has picked up on this

It looks like some of what I have written about the Antioch School has been picked up by a blogger. Interesting…

(for those reading this at a later date after she has added more, the part I am referring to is the May 28th 2013 posting)