Photo by Johnny Jackson
A Henry County High School student (left) gives a motivational speech to McDonough Elementary School students Friday, during the elementary school's annual CRCT Pep Rally, featuring the high school's Warhawks mascot (right).
By Johnny Jackson
Eleven-year-old Jalen McDowell sat at the back of the bleachers with his classmates, taking in all that the pep rally had to offer.
The McDonough Elementary School fifth-grader had just recovered from an afternoon of tag football with his elder counterparts from Henry County High School, and now those high school upperclassmen were schooling McDowell on the importance of trying hard, and doing well, academically.
Dozens of high schoolers were on hand for the elementary school's Friday afternoon of activities, which included an annual pep rally geared toward encouraging students to do well on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT).
The CRCT is the state's standardized assessment for elementary and middle school students, which begins for area students on April 19, according to McDonough Elementary Principal Gena Williams.
"We know you've been studying hard ... we know you're going to rock that test," Williams told the energized crowd of students.
Erin Godfree, a Title I reading and math teacher at McDonough Elementary, remarked that the CRCT pep rallies have seemed to benefit students in the past by relaxing them, first, and then motivating them.
"We think that it just pumped them up and got them ready for the CRCT," said Godfree.
The educator noted that many of the high schoolers available at the pep rally had already forged relationships with some of the younger students through the school's student mentoring program.
"I love children," said student-mentor, Tore Dwight.
The 18-year-old spoke to students during Friday's pep rally about how study skills and techniques they learn now can help them succeed in the future. She recalled taking the CRCT herself, as a youngster, and not being fully prepared.
"As a kid, I didn't realize it was as important as I know it is now," explained the high school senior.
These days, Dwight starts her days mentoring students at the elementary school.
"We teach them things they need help with. This group of kids is so bright, they'll teach me," said Dwight. "It's all about helping them."