Students and staff at McNair Discovery Learning Academy have had a full week of routine since a shooter entered the school last week. Thanks to the calm presence of the school’s bookkeeper, Ms. Tuff, no one was injured during the event. However, the entire school knew what was going on and was on high alert because of communication from Ms. Tuff throughout the intercom system. Teachers barred their children in classrooms and had to demonstrate the utmost restraint and composure to keep their students safe.
Today, McNair got to celebrate their safety and courage, as well as a week of normalcy with a huge, fantastic pep rally. Mascots from the Braves and the Hawks, Braves dancers, Hawks cheerleaders, Braves drum corp, and Hawks players came out to play, dance, and cheer for the students.
The pep rally was meant to encourage the students and congratulate them for being strong. Rachel Zeigler, regional superintendent, encouraged the students to be ”Five-Star” students, explaining how grown-ups like five-star hotels and cars and restaurants. “We like the best,” she said, “and you all are the best, right?” She proceeded to lead them through their five-star behaviors: “Do you do your homework? Listen to your teachers? Help your friends? Can you read?” Each time, the children and their teachers cheered louder.
McNair high school alum and current assistant band director at Towers high school, Cortez Harris, is a member in the Braves drum corps and performed with the group for the students today. The students cheered for their neighbor as he congratulated them on their bravery and their success last week. Hawks player Elton Brand also commended the students and staff while talking to the students about the importance of education and emphasized their five-star learner status.
Students dance and cheer with Hawks cheerleaders.
In a spontaneous game of “Are you smarter than McNair students,” the mascots were asked questions by the students. It was a challenging game as the mascots aren’t allowed to speak. McNair won when a second grader stumped the characters with “What is matter?” She confidently answered the question for them and received hoots and cheers from everyone in the room.
My favorite speakers were the students representing Kindergarten through 2nd grade who shared “Why I love McNair” speeches with their peers. This is a what they had to say:
I like playing with my friends. I learned that if you make a mess, help clean up.
I love to learn to read and learn my numbers and play with my friends.
I like to help my friends at school. I like when my teacher gives me math to do. My school is the best school in the whole world.
My school is special.
McNair is a kind school. It is a place where I can express myself.
We learn how to be nice to each other.
I’m learning about matter, mass, and place value.
I love McNair. It is a special place to learn and be.
Each time I’ve encountered McNair students, they have been confident, poised, and excited about learning. They’re challenged constantly to consider what they want to do when they’re adults, but they are allowed to be creative and have fun while they work their way there. In this way, they are able to take pride in their education.
At the pep rally, the teachers all wore McNair’s signature bright red shirts, many of them in “McNair Strong” t-shirts. I cannot imagine the strength it took to maintain composure last Tuesday, but it made all the difference in keeping their students safe.
See the students’ reactions as they see just how big their pep rally is going to be!