Dunbar school's PSSA rally ends with 'Pie for Porter!'

| Saturday, March 12, 2011

The multipurpose room of Dunbar Township Elementary School echoed with shouts of support from third- through sixth-graders, roaring their confidence to "Rock the PSSA!"

Through songs and games, they also heard lighthearted advice to relax and believe in themselves and what they know as they take the reading and math Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests all next week.

Their excitement built until the finale: the chance for two students to throw a pie at Principal Kristin Porter.

Teachers led the school's first PSSA Kick-Off Assembly with "PSSA," set to the tune of "YMCA," the Village People hit from the disco era, but with new lyrics by music teacher Steve Clark. Each verse celebrated a separate grade. Many students joined in on the chorus: "It's time to rock on the PSSA / It's time to rock on the PSSA / It's just reading and math / You can do that so well / You just show 'em how much you know!"

Clark led representatives from each grade in "Minute to Win It" competitions. Third-graders stood in two parallel lines passing hula hoops through their bodies in a chain. Fourth-graders had to sort M&Ms by colors.

The fifth grade offered its own song, "Rockin' the PSSA" to the tune of Miley Cyrus' "Party in the USA."

Fifth-grade teacher Melanie Mickey wrote the lyrics, which included the verse, "Start with the math and I feel at ease / Feeling pretty good about it now / Area, perimeter and measurement / Can't believe that I remember how. / And then the reading, what's the author's purpose / I can't believe how ready I am for this / I really learned a lot in reading / I understand multiple meanings." Their game was to find bubble gum in a dish of whipped cream without using their hands, then blow a bubble with it.

Sixth-graders took up another "Minute to Win It" challenge: pingpong Kleenex box bump-out. With a tissue box strapped to their backsides, they jumped and shimmied to bounce out the pingpong balls within.

After the games, Porter took the stage and pulled her hair into a ponytail. Clark asked her what kind of pie she liked.

"Red raspberry," Porter said.

"Pie for Porter!" the students began chanting.

Clark drew out the moment. "A lot of people in this school care about how you do on the PSSA," he said, quieting the crowd as Linda Michael downloaded a PSSA public service announcement for the students.

The PSA began with Porter and included teachers and students, who gave advice.

"We have worked harder than ever," Porter said in the announcement. "Relax, take your time and be confident. I know we're ready."

"Trust your own brain. Your first answer is the best," Clark said.

Others told students to read the question carefully, get enough rest, fill in all the bubbles, answer every question, relax, read the directions. Eliminate answers known to be wrong. If nervous, take a few deep breaths and roll shoulders to release tension.

Kindergarten classes cheered the test-takers on literally, with cheers worthy of any pep squad.

Dressed bananas chanted, "Go bananas on the PSSA!"

The school band reprised "PSSA," and teachers sang the song during a rehearsal.

"Now we'll draw names for who gets to serve the pie to Miss Porter," Clark said.

Sixth-grader Kessa Rock's was the first name drawn. "Miss Rock," Porter said in mock seriousness, "Do you want to go to seventh grade• I'm just asking."

Kessa hit Porter face-on.

Jayde Lowry, a fourth-grader, got the second chance to serve her principal. She also hit Porter right in the kisser.

"You are dismissed," Porter said, wiping whipped cream off, "but I want to see Kessa and Jayde in my office. Just kidding. Who's going to do their best on the PSSA?"

The students shouted, "Me!" Then they chanted, "Rock the PSSA!"

Third-grade teacher Lori Rosensteel said, "We want them to see the PSSA not as a test but as a celebration of what they know."

Superintendent Dr. David Goodin attended the assembly. "If I've done anything in my time, it's raise awareness of the PSSA," he said.

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