Ready to rock the test: Principal, teachers work to prepare students for state test
As students filed into the F.D. Moon Academy gymnasium Friday morning, some did a double-take when they walked past Principal Aaron Kellert.
"Are those real tattoos?" a girl asked.
Kellert, wearing jeans and a T-shirt and tattoo sleeves on both arms, bore a resemblance to pop singer Adam Levine. Mirrored sunglasses solidified the look.
"It freaks them out," he said of the sleeves, which are made out of pantyhose material and can be purchased online.
Kellert wasn't the only adult in the building dressed like a rock star for an assembly/pep rally to kick off state testing at public schools across Oklahoma.
"We’re trying to get kids not only exited, energized, focused on the weeks coming up with the testing window opening on Monday, but also trying to also give them a little bit of fun," said Kellert, with the 1986 song "The Final Countdown" by Swedish rock band Europe playing in the background. "We want them to realize that ‘yeah, it’s some pressure,' but we totally believe in them, we’re all behind them, getting the other grades that aren’t testing to show them how much they believe in them, pump them up."
Cher, the '60s version, was there. Teena Marie, too. Even Prince. Sixth-grade teacher Charles Weekly strutted to the gym in a warm-up suit and Afro wig carrying a boom box on his shoulder.
"I'm rockin' the '80s rappers, Run DMC," he said. "I love it. It's fun."
Music teacher Jana Dubois wore "the punkest clothes I own."
Parent liaison Arnitha Swanegan, with a poodle skirt and a bow in her hair, looked more '50s than '80s.
"I'm supposed to be Cyndi Lauper but I didn't quite make it," she joked. "I don't know who I'm supposed to be."
Beginning Monday and continuing through April 30, third-, fourth- and fifth-graders in the Oklahoma City district will be among those tested in subjects that include English language arts and math. Kellert encouraged students to get a good night's sleep the night before they test, eat a good breakfast, arrive on time and focus.
"I just want to pass all of the tests so I can go to fifth grade," said Zaniyah Williams, 10, a fourth-grader in Elizabeth Bartholomew's class. "I'm just scared I might not pass."
Grade promotion for fourth-grade students isn't dependent on the state test.
Classmate Andre Curry said he was nervous "because I might fail."
"I don't think I'm going to fail, but the tests make me nervous," he said.
Instead of paper assessments, fourth- and fifth-graders will test online for the first time, Kellert said.
"I don’t think they’re looking forward to it," he said. "There’s always pressure. Whenever there’s a change that throws you out of your routine there’s always going to be a concern and a little nerves."
Oklahoma City Public Schools is looking for about 70 adults to volunteer as test monitors over the next month. Those interested in helping out can sign up by visiting the district's website at okcps.org.