At yesterday's Trailblazer University Celebration, students gathered in the gym to blow off some steam and show support for our "Big Kids" as they get ready to take their "Big Test" next week. Special guest Elsa paid a visit to share her stories about the "ICE"-Step, and our 3rd-6th graders faced off in a game of human hungry-hungry hippo. The crowd broke out in spontaneous organized cheering for their fellow classmates: "Let's go 6th grade.....Let's go 6th grade....." at every grade level complete with clapping and cheers at the end of each round. In the end, our 3rd grade students were the hungriest! Afterward, our K-2nd grade students, teachers, and staff formed a cheer tunnel in the hallway while I gave a pep talk to our big kids. The message is this: Our students have worked hard all year. ISTEP week is no different. They have already put in all of the hard work--coming to school every day, working hard in their classrooms, completing their assignments, asking questions, seeking and accepting additional support where they need it. ISTEP week will be no different. It is a time when they can now show off some of what they have learned. We want students to do their best, to eat a good breakfast and get plenty of sleep so that their brains and bodies are ready; but we do not want them to feel pressure or anxiety for an assessment that only measures a very narrow scope of all they have learned and will continue to learn this year at South Side. Students left the gym to be greeted by signs, cheers, and high fives all the way through the hallways as they paraded through the cheer tunnel. My favorite part of the whole assembly was seeing the support our students show to each other. Neat stuff.