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Pep rally readies students for SOL tests
Drewry Mason “cheerleaders” (from left) teachers Lori Aldridge, Kristie Gardner, Carol Carter, Sara McKinney, Donna Martin, Krissy Friedhoff, Amber Adkins and Ashley Cox lead the students in a cheer Friday at the SOL testing pep rally. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
A colorful pep rally at Drewry Mason Elementary School on Friday had students chanting, pumping their fists in the air, clapping, dancing, bouncing in their seats and yelling, all about an unlikely subject: SOL tests.
Virginia Standards of Learning tests will begin Monday for third- through fifth-graders at the school.
The school’s more than 400 students, in prekindergarten through fifth grade, attended the pep rally, but the third-, fourth- and fifth-graders were the stars. As each class in grades 3-5 entered the school auditorium amid blaring rock music, it received cheers from the audience as the class and teacher’s pictures flashed on a screen.
Educators and parents did or led a series of skits, cheers, chants and songs stressing confidence and enthusiasm, praising academic proficiency and giving strategies for test-taking and relieving stress.
For instance, teachers Kristin Friedhoff, Jennifer Gunter and Molly Follweiler performed “Dynamite, SOL Style.” a modified version of Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite,” as students sang along to lyrics shown on a screen. Some of the lyrics were:
I came to test, test, test, test,
I hit my desk to do my best, best, best, best.
I know this stuff, no need to guess, guess, guess, guess.
Proficiency is our quest, quest, quest, quest.
So bring it on and on and on.
Bring it on and on and on.
I got a lot of capability!
C’mon let’s go!
Here’s an example of a test-taking strategy:
“Keep On Keeping On!
“If you get to a couple of questions that you just don’t know, don’t give up! Keep trying your best!
To illustrate, a woman wearing rabbit ears and with a huge battery strapped to her back beat a large drum as she crossed the stage.
Teachers Lorrie Aldridge, Kristie Gardner, Carol Carter, Sara McKinney, Donna Martin, Kristin Friedhoff, Amber Adkins and Ashley Cox took turns holding up cue cards as they led students in this repeated cheer: “Drewry-Mason/Spartans/do your best/on the test.”
At one point in the pep rally, emcee Tim Hunt, a parent, asked how many students in the audience were a little worried about taking the SOL tests. Many raised their hands.
“Teachers feel test stress too,” Hunt responded. Then a funny video was shown of teachers dancing and doing other stress-relieving moves. Students got a chance to do likewise during “15 Second Shake at Your Seat.”
Among other highlights, “Taylor Swift” — portrayed by Eyrin Martin, daughter of a teacher — sang Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble.”
Another girl named Taylor, fifth-grader Taylor Keith, said the SOL Rockin’ Pep Rally “motivated me to do good.”
“It caught your attention,” fifth-grader Lanta Estes said of the pep rally. “It gave me confidence in myself that I can pass this test.”
“I think it’s a great motivation for the kids,” said Jennifer Brown, whose son Avery is in the third grade.
The assembly was “a whole school effort” to get third- through fifth-graders pumped up for the SOL tests, Principal Wendy Durham said in an interview. “We know we’ve prepared them.”
The pep rally was masterminded by Gunter, who said she hopes the assembly “unites us as a team” and lightens the stress.
Francis Zehr, who represents the Ridgeway District on the Henry County School Board, praised the program and said he wished other schools would do it.