Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Education notebook: Students primed for SOLs

Mountain View Elementary teachers and staff had a fun time getting students in the right frame of mind.

Students at Mountain View Elementary School attend an SOL pep rally in the school’s gymnasium. The teachers put on a skit about SOLs including a band called the Black Eyed T’s. Area students are taking their Standards of Learning tests this week.

Eric Brady | The Roanoke Times

Students at Mountain View Elementary School attend an SOL pep rally in the school’s gymnasium. The teachers put on a skit about SOLs including a band called the Black Eyed T’s. Area students are taking their Standards of Learning tests this week.

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Teachers and other school staff performed a skit Friday afternoon at Roanoke County's Mountain View Elementary School to get students pumped for this week's Standards of Learning tests.

The annual standardized testing mandated by the Virginia Department of Education to begin in third grade is under way this week in Roanoke and Roanoke County.

Mountain View's third- through fifth-grade students assembled in the school's gymnasium Friday for the performance. Special education teacher John Overstreet, clad in a magician's cape, pretended to peddle magic wands that he said would "make all your SOL troubles go away."

The students erupted into laughter as Overstreet's "assistants" -- two male teachers clad in dresses and wigs -- emerged. But Assistant Principal Matt Johnson quickly nixed the sales venture. Johnson instructed Overstreet to take notes as several teachers in small groups performed test preparation scenarios.

The teachers emphasized what students need in order to perform their best on the tests: a good night's sleep the night before, breakfast on test days and exercise.

"The big message is kids can do it," said Nancy Armstrong, the school's Title I teacher, who wrote the skit. "It just takes a lot of focus. Your body has to be ready. The knowledge is there but your brain can't run on empty or well on little sleep."

The assembly ended with a performance by the Black Eyed T's, a group of teachers wearing white T-shirts emblazoned with the letter T made from black duct tape. The group replaced the words of popular music group the Black Eyed Peas' song "I Gotta Feeling."

A trio of teachers playing recorders opened the song and then the stage's curtain opened to reveal a chorus of teachers, who crooned: "I gotta feeling that next week's gonna be a great week. ..."

A verse or two into the song, many of the students were singing along with the popular tune as the Black Eyed T's spread out around the gym, strumming toy guitars.

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An open house and ribbon-cutting at the new Masons Cove Elementary School is planned for 10 a.m. Saturday, according to Roanoke County schools spokesman Chuck Lionberger.

The newly constructed $12 million school on Bradshaw Road in the Catawba area opened to students in August. The former school, built in 1961, was the school division's last remaining facility heated by coal. The old school was demolished last summer.

The community is invited to tour the new facility Saturday after the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

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Three finalists have been named for Bedford County schools' Teacher of the Year, spokesman Ryan Edwards wrote in an email. A winner is slated to be chosen June 7 during a dinner at the Boonsboro Country Club in Lynchburg.

Kristen Cunningham of Staunton River High School, Kristina Karnes of Staunton River Middle School and David Webb of Jefferson Forest High School are the finalists, according to Edwards.

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