Banks Trail prepped to ‘Rock the PASS’

Special to the Fort Mill TimesMay 9, 2013 

  • Rocking the PASS These students were ‘Are you Smarter?’ contestants: sixth grade: Michael Melzer and Madison Cornwell seventh grade: McKenna Ashforth and Tucker Little eighth grade: Thomas Chrisley and Kennedy Jean-Baptiste Poster Winners: sixth grade: Aubrie Paradise, Vivian Wong, Brianna Pagan and Mandi Morazan seventh grade: Jada Edwards and Alexia Coit eighth grade: Thomas Chrisley, Noah Griffin and Ellery Aschenbrenner

— After a fun, game-filled day at Banks Trail Middle School, 13-year-old Ayanah Nash felt ready to take on her Palmetto Assessment of State Standards test.

The middle school held its first Rock the PASS festival, an all-day event designed to prepare students for the PASS test this week, eighth grade teacher Leslie Nivens said.

The PASS test is based on SC standards taught in classrooms all year, Nivens said. She worked with other members of the faculty to create the festival.

“We wanted to motivate the students to do the best they can on the test next week,” Nivens said.

For Nash, the games were a break from her typical school day.

“I wanted to learn because it was fun,” she said.

As for the test, Nash isn’t worried.

“I think I’m ready,” she said. “The games and activities were very helpful in all subjects.”

The students participated in games focused on all major areas covered by the PASS test. The games included a language arts mummy relay, in which students were able to wrap their peer with toilet paper when they answered a question correctly.

Social studies corn hole tested the students’ knowledge and aim as they threw bags toward the goal in the board with the correct answer. Other games included a math bucket and sponge relay and a science scavenger hunt.

“The kids really enjoyed it,” Nivens said.

The festival ended with a pep rally. All the grades came together to celebrate academic achievement. Students were recognized for their good grades and involvement in academic clubs. Winners of the Rock the PASS poster contest were also recognized.

As the crowds of students stamped their feet and showed their school spirit, motivational speaker Mister Nigel joined the rally to inspire the students. “The time has come for you to rock the pass,” he said. “You have everything you need to succeed.”

Nigel also lead the students in a dance off across the gym floor, in which sixth grader Daniel Blackwood showed off his skills. Blackwood said his favorite part of the festival was “dancing to the ‘Cupid Shuffle.’” Nigel then joined a group of students in a round of “Are You Smarter than a Middle Schooler?” With the students’ help, he managed to answer questions about eighth grade language arts, seventh grade science and sixth grade social studies.

During PASS Prep, students had to choose the right test-taking strategy from three options demonstrated by their teachers and peers. The students learned to get enough sleep and eat healthy before the test.

Nivens said she already started to see a drastic improvement in the students’ motivation during the May 3 event.

“We hope to have 100 percent passing the PASS test,” she said.

Nivens hopes next year’s festival will be even bigger. The school has applied for a $750 grant from the Foundation for Fort Mill Schools for supplies for next year’s event. Nivens hopes next year the faculty can provide T-shirts and prizes to the students.

The event celebrated both the students’ and faculty’s hard work all year, Banks Trail principle Marty Conner said. “(The festival) captured the essence of what we are doing the whole year,” he said. “It demonstrates how well we do here academically. It superseded our expectations.”

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