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    By Todd Martin

    Cedar Valley Elementary School staff lit up the stage Friday, mixing dance and music with silly skits and motivational words to send students into the weekend prior to a week of testing.

    Continuing a longtime tradition, third- through fifth-grade faculty members and campus administrators conducted skits, humorously showing good and bad ways to use strategies for taking the test.

    One skit with teachers struggling through a math problem ended with fourth-grader Callie Walker waking up from a dream about being a math wizard using strong test-taking strategies.

    "I think that it's good that we do this," the fourth-grader said following the rally. "It's fun and it's educational."

    State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness assessments are scheduled Monday for third-, fourth-, sixth- and seventh-grade math and fifth and eighth grade math retakes; Tuesday for third-, fourth-, sixth- and seventh-grade reading and fifth- and eighth-grade reading retakes; Wednesday for fifth- and eighth-grade science and Thursday for eighth-grade social studies.

    Fifth-grade teachers formed the letters STAAR in pep squad formation leading into several songs, using lyrics tying into test-taking strategies like reading carefully, checking answers and re-reading passages when needed.

    In another series of activities on the cafeteria stage, teachers and students challenged one another in "minute to win it" games stacking cups, working puzzles and separating candy by color.

    Fifth-grade teacher Sarah Garcia said the school's big productions are about motivation and relaxation.

    "We get silly for the kids," she said, after appearing in dance tutu and glow sticks during various performances.

    "The STAAR test is stressful enough. This is a way to help eliminate the stressors and let them be kids. When we get silly, they can relax," the fifth-grade teacher said.

    Cedar Valley Principal Connie Morris told the students they are ready.

    "Your teachers have kept you going and I want you to give your best," she said. "When you get tired and don't think you can read anymore, tell yourself you can. Don't quit."

    Walker, a fourth-grader, said she was grateful for her teachers' creative determination to see their students to success. "We should thank our teachers for helping us do good on the STAAR," she said.

    "I'm a little nervous, but I'm excited," Walker said, "because it's the test at the end of the year and it sums up everything we've learned for the year."

    May 11, 2018

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