SPRING HILL — To help students mentally prepare for last week's and this week's testing, the reading leadership team at Westside Elementary School, coordinated by first-grade teacher Diane Welch, had an FCAT pep rally on April 11.
It began with about 11 or 12 teachers doing a choreographed dance to Michael Jackson's Thriller. " 'We're thrilled to conquer the FCAT' was our theme," said fourth-grade teacher Melissa Tomlinson.
Next, principal Gina Michalicka gave students an inspirational talk, followed by more dancing, this time by teachers on the stage and students in the audience. The big finale was a return of the Thriller dance with the addition of Tiny, elementary assistant Pam Kasten dressed in a school mascot tiger costume.
After the pep rally, children in kindergarten through second grade and their teachers went outside to wait for the third- through fifth-graders to be dismissed. Some of the younger children had bubbles, some had noisemakers and others had pompoms.
When the older students were dismissed, they went to their buses and rides, ready to give it their best on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.
"I think it was encouraging for the older students," said Tomlinson. "It made them feel special. The whole idea was to take the stress off and encourage them to do their best, (knowing that) the whole school is behind them."