Pep rally helps ready test-takers

Advocate staff photo by ARTHUR D. LAUCK -  South Fork Elementary students, from left, Robbie Vucinvich, 6, Hailey Willie, 6, Julianna Easley, 6, and Alayna Veguilla, 6, sing and dance during the school's  pep rally Friday to get the students ready to 'Rock the Test!'
Advocate staff photo by ARTHUR D. LAUCK - South Fork Elementary students, from left, Robbie Vucinvich, 6, Hailey Willie, 6, Julianna Easley, 6, and Alayna Veguilla, 6, sing and dance during the school's pep rally Friday to get the students ready to 'Rock the Test!'

Students at South Fork Elementary School prepared to take the LEAP, iLEAP and Iowa tests, not just by answering practice questions but by listening to some advice from their teachers and peers during a pep rally Friday.

Students in all grades watched skits that provided helpful test-taking advice — everything from what to eat for breakfast to getting the right amount of sleep.

The students stomped their feet, clapped their hands and cheered along with their classmates and teachers during a series of cheers designed to help them “Rock the Test!”

The goal of the event was to help reduce any stress or anxiety the students may be feeling about taking the tests, teacher Amanda Douglas said.

“Most research shows that events like this reduce stress before taking tests,” Douglas said. “It’s beneficial for the students and the teachers, and they have fun.”

Students in second through fifth grades will take the LEAP, iLEAP and Iowa tests through Friday, while students in kindergarten and first grade take the Iowa tests next week, school officials said.

Faculty and staff have been hosting the pep rally for the past few years and say they believe the rally helps make the students feel more comfortable taking the tests.

For Kevin Veguilla, 10, the pep rally helped him feel more confident, he said.

“It helped me understand that there will be things (on the test) that I don’t know,” Kevin said.

In addition to talking to the students about eating a healthy breakfast and getting a good night’s sleep, the skits provided helpful hints to students about what to do if they don’t know an answer on the test.

Principal Allison Raborn, who was also at the event to help cheer on her students, said she isn’t concerned about her students’ performance and believes they are prepared to do well.

“We’ve put a lot of things in place” to ensure the students do well on the tests, Raborn said. “We’ve added tutoring for third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students, and some before and after school activities.

“I feel like they’ll do well,” she said.

As the cheers gradually grew louder, fourth-grader Megan Petty joined in. The 10-year-old didn’t seem too worried about the upcoming challenge, but was instead having fun with her peers.

“I think it helped me, and I think I’m really going to do really well because of the pep rally,” Megan said.

“I learned not to be too slow (when taking the test), and don’t be too fast; eat a healthy meal; go to sleep early; and do your best.”

Fifth-grade student Nicole Walker, 11, said the pep rally increased her confidence.

“It made me feel better about the test,” Nicole said. “It made me feel like I can do it, and that I won’t fail.”

Douglas said the students will do great.

“They’ve been working really hard all year, and I think their hard work is going to pay off,” she said.