Heights STAAR pep rally

Teachers and administrators at Harker Heights Elementary School on Friday pumped up students preparing to take state-mandated tests this week. Fourth- and fifth-graders are part of this week’s STAAR testing schedule. Third-graders test in May, along with several other grades at both elementary and secondary levels.

STAAR testing begins Tuesday and teachers have been pumping up Killeen Independent School District students.

At Harker Heights Elementary School the dancing teachers drew plenty of excitement at a pep rally Friday. Then, the high school cheerleaders and football players really fired up the young crowd.

Third-grade teacher Arlene Elizondo said a group of teachers began talking about hosting a pep rally the week before the start of testing and before long, the event included songs, skits and cheerleaders and athletes from Harker Heights High School.

Early in the morning, staff members surprised students with a flash mob, bursting into song and dance to the delighted surprise of students, according to teachers who took part.

In the afternoon, students ran beneath cheerleaders’ bridged hands to enter the cafeteria for the planned rally.

Teacher Wanda Richerzhagen served as mistress of ceremonies, guiding students through a series of songs, with popular tunes matched with lyrics relevant to checking your work and taking your time.

Fifth-graders acted out a scene on stage with “rabbit” rushing through the test and doing poorly, while “turtle” took his time and earned higher scores.

This spring’s first round of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness is Tuesday through Thursday and includes fourth-grade writing and fifth-grade math and reading at the elementary level.

Also on Tuesday, seventh-graders test in writing and eighth-graders test in math. Wednesday includes the reading test for eighth-graders. Various high school end-of-course exams are also underway this week. Thursday and Friday are make-up test days for various grade levels. More testing is scheduled in May.

“We want them to believe in themselves and to have confidence,” said Richerzhagen. “We tell them to take their time and don’t be nervous. They are equipped with the skills they need. I think they enjoyed the pep rally today.”

“It relieves stress for students and teachers,” Elizondo said. “They were excited.”

“We wanted to be involved in the community,” said Harker Heights High School senior Rachel Forrest, the cheerleader captain. “We want to pump them up about taking the STAAR test. That’s something we all remember.”

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