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Jeannette elementary students rally for assessment tests

| Wednesday, April 10, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Kristie Linden | The Jeannette Spirit
Annette Russell, elementary music teacher, plays piano during the rally with the help of the Pirate Parrot.
Kristie Linden | The Jeannette Spirit
The Pirate Parrot chooses students in the audience to answer PSSA related questions and earn prizes.
Kristie Linden | The Jeannette Spirit
The Pirate Parrot waits for teacher and rally leader Nichol Laskey to determine if a student has answered her question correctly.
Kristie Linden | The Jeannette Spirit
The Pirate Parrot leans in to offer a prize to a student.
Kristie Linden | The Jeannette Spirit
The Pirate Parrot picks on teacher Nichol Laskey during the PSSA rally at Jeannette McKee Elementary School.
Kristie Linden | The Jeannette Spirit
Jeannette High School students Shavonta Craft, Chiron Alexander, Tony Mash and Michael Wise talk to the elementary school students about the importance of the PSSA tests and offer tips on how to survive the week.
Kristie Linden | The Jeannette Spirit
Jeannette McKee Elementary principal Shelley Muto offers her students a pep talk during the PSSA rally.

Jeannette McKee Elementary School got some help when it came time to get the kids energized for this week's Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) testing — the Pirate Parrot visited during a pep rally to give the children a spark.

The assessment testing, which is required by the No Child Left Behind Act, is ongoing all week for third, fourth and fifth graders at the elementary school.

In order to get the children excited for the week, the school outlined a PSSA rewards program during the pep rally.

“It's important for you and it's important for all of us as a school district,” principal Shelley Muto told the students. When she asked, “Do you think you're in one of the best school districts around?” the children erupted into loud cheers. “We have to prove that. I want 100 percent effort.”

A group of students from Jeannette High School attended the rally to talk to the younger children about the importance of the tests and to offer tips on how to prepare.

“The tests are very important,” said Michael Wise, a junior. “At the high school, they're a lot more important. You need to take tests to graduate so take them seriously.”

Tony Mash, a sophomore, told the children that it's important to get a good night's sleep all week and to eat a good breakfast before the tests.

Maggie Manolis, a freshman, told the students that if they make sure to be at school on time every day during the testing week, Muto will let the children stick her to a wall in the gym with duct tape.

The children watched a video that used a variety of test-taking vocabulary such as taking an educated guess, comparing and contrasting, summarizing, explaining, evaluating and interpreting facts. That's when the Pirate Parrot made his appearance, stumbling onto the gymnasium floor and dancing all around.

Nichol Laskey, a teacher who organized the pep rally, told students all about a PSSA rewards program. Students can earn raffle tickets each day this week throughout the PSSA process. Students will earn tickets for following directions, paying attention, staying on task and following other rules. Raffle prizes range from pencils to homework coupons, from restaurant coupons to passes to the Carnegie Science Center and from bowling passes to a pizza party for a homeroom.

There are two grand prizes up for grabs. A student will win two tickets to a Pirates' game of their choosing along with an autographed photo of Andrew McCutchen and Pirates novelty items. Another student will win two season passes to the 2013 Jayhawk Football home games and a football signed by the entire Jeannette football team.

If students have perfect attendance and are not late, there will be an ice cream party for the entire school and the children will be able to dress down for the whole week next week. Each student with perfect attendance will also earn a foot-long piece of duct tape they can use to stick Muto to the gym wall.

The rally gave the students a chance to answer various test-taking trivia to earn PSSA Survival Kits as gifts from First Niagara Bank. The party ended with the students singing the PSSA Song to the tune of the Village People hit “YMCA.”

Kristie Linden is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 724-838-5154.