Lockwood students sing and dance to celebrate academics

Lockwood Elementary Kindergarten students Khasiano Martinez, left, and Vivian Miller join hands as they sing “God Bless America” during an Academic Pep Rally at the school Friday. CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth

Ryan Lengerich

Motivating elementary students to learn is easy: Hold a pep rally — an academic pep rally.
Lockwood Elementary students cheered, laughed and danced during an “academic pep rally” Friday afternoon in the school gymnasium. The event is held every nine weeks to celebrate academic achievements and energize students for upcoming classes.
School principal Jarilyn Butler said the events reward the kids for the effort put forth in the previous school term.
“We work really hard and we expect a lot out of them,” Butler said. “The kids really look forward to it.”
In connection with the event’s patriotic theme, honor students were given handheld flags. On the gym’s back wall hung a hand-painted American flag about the height and width of a sport utility vehicle.
Butler opened the celebration by honoring students with perfect attendance. Minutes later fourth-grade teacher and acting emcee Mychelle Simms blasted swing music on the school’s house speakers. The children and teachers danced. Some kids, at first embarrassed to twist their hips, fell victim to the energy.
As the honor roll was announced, those called stood as their peers applauded.
“They get really excited to be a part of it,” Simms said. “To reach their goals and have something to reach for.”
Lockwood teachers dressed in military fatigues performed as academic soldiers called the “Loopy troopers.” Their performance had miscues, but the students applauded. Simms said teachers perform skits regularly throughout the school year, which the students enjoy.
Prizes were then drawn for honor students. The festivity concluded with a salute to America. Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” pounded the cement walls while many children sang and lipped every word. Some students held hands. Two students grasped principal Butler’s hand — swaying side to side.
“God Bless America,” and other familiar songs filled the gym.
“When you see their faces and the unity — that is what it is all about,” Simms said.
Both Butler and Simms swear the rallies boost morale and the educational experience. Sixth grader Taylor Quinn was holding an honor roll flag and she agrees.
“Getting everyone up here dancing and singing in front of the whole school,” Taylor said. “It motivates everyone to study.”