Primary school peps up pupils

By Chrysta Carroll -

ELIZABETHTOWN — Ask any parent of a student who is taking end-of-grade tests this week, and they are likely to say they cannot wait for it to be over. Students, educators and parents alike are prone to “test stress” — the troubled sleep, on-edge nerves, and general crankiness that sometimes accompany the end-of-the-school-year evaluations. One area school — Elizabethtown Primary — is doing something about it, holding an EOG pep rally on Friday afternoon to help allay potential problems.

“Some students get stressed,” said Assistant Principal Vanessa Ruffin, “and this is just one way we can help relieve that stress. We want to motivate them and let them know that all we want is for them to do their best.”

On Friday, third- and fourth-grade students sat in rows in front of a screen set up in a wide hallway of the school and watched a video prepared by school staff, the goal of which, joked Principal Cheryl White-Smith, was to “pep them up for the pep rally.” Students seemed to enjoy watching the school staff root them on and dance for their benefit.

“Some kids work fine under pressure, and some don’t,” said fourth-grade teacher Tracy Washington, on why she took the time to help put the video together, “but they all need motivation to do their best.”

“That’s all we’re asking,” White-Smith encouraged the students after the video, “that you do your best. Do your best. Do your best.”

The rest of the school then joined their elder schoolmates outside on the basketball court for the pep rally. The preschool team kicked off the encouragement with a chant they had put together encouraging test-takers to “get some rest, do your best” and to “take your time, and you’ll do fine.”

First-graders, who were accompanied by staff members dressed in matching baseball uniforms — complete with mitts, bats, and the large, foam No. 1 fingers often waved by sports fans — sang an EOG song to the tune of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

“And we’ll root, root, root for the fourth grade,” they sang.

Kindergartners, second-graders — who wrapped up their routine with some girls doing cartwheels across the blacktop — and third-graders also sang or chanted songs of encouragement to their peers.

“A lot of the kids that are in fourth grade now, I had in first grade or kindergarten,” said first grade teacher Lateia Kelly after the pep rally. “I’ve also taught fourth grade, so I know that it’s a hard time for teachers and students.”

Sandra Huff, parent of a third-grade student agreed.

“My son is laid-back,” she said, “but some of the students really stress about it. The teachers, especially (third-grade teacher Christy) Babson, try to stay on their level and boost their morale. They’re all about keeping the kids interested in what they’re learning.

“This is a good morale-booster,” she went on to say about the pep rally. “It shows the older kids that the whole school — kindergartners, first graders, second graders — are all behind them. They see that all these kids are looking up to them, and they think, ‘If they’re behind us, we can do it.’ These kids here just push each other to do their best.”

“We’re ready for it,” said Babson of the EOGs. “We’ve done a lot of work in testing settings to get them prepared, and they’re ready. They’re going to do great.”

Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.

By Chrysta Carroll

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