The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Local News

June 4, 2014

Purr-fect Strategy

Sir Purr prepares students to ‘spike’ end of grade tests

Tuesday, June 3, 2014 — With the help of the Carolina Panthers, students from Albemarle Middle School are now set to tackle their end of grade tests.

On Thursday, Panthers’ mascot Sir Purr and the Carolina Panther’s Black and Blue Crew surprised students with a pep rally aimed at preparing them for their upcoming tests.

Via video message, students heard from players such as DeAngelo Williams, Graham Grano and Thomas Davis, as well as coaches and cheerleaders, about how to be at their best for EOGs.

Tracey Smith, part of the exploratory team that requested the Panthers send their “Sack the EOGs” crew to Albemarle Middle, said the timing couldn’t be better. “Testing starts Tuesday for most students,” Smith said, referring to today.

“Hopefully it helps shake out some of those nerves.”

Anxiety certainly seemed forgotten as Sir Purr ran on to the floor and up into the stands to get the session started.

Students came to their feet for high fives and hugs.

“This definitely went better than expected,” Tom Hill, captain of the Black and Blue Crew and emcee of the rally, said.

“Most middle schoolers are difficult to connect with because they’re growing, they’re indecisive about who they are, they’re figuring out relationships, they’ve got a lot going on.

“Any time you get through to that kind of crowd, it’s great.”

Using the acronym SPIKE, he and Sir Purr led kids through five tips to prepare for test day.

Students guessed the first letter of the acronym, “S” for sleep, from the charades of a napping Sir Purr.

“Make sure you’re getting eight hours of sleep,” Hill said.

Student Angel Ochoa and Will Littles labeled that tip as their favorite.

“Sleep is good,” Ochoa  said.

Other students said the “P,” promptness, struck them as important because they didn’t want to feel rushed.

“I liked inquire,” student Maris Rader said.

“Sometimes I don’t like to ask questions because I’m scared to be wrong.”

The “K,” keeping fit, was a favorite among football players. However, it was “E,” eating healthy, that got the most votes.

“I liked that it’s good for me to have some dark chocolate before a test,” student Tristen Thielman said.

Hill said if his team can get kids thinking about any of those five tips, then his job is complete.

“My favorite part of this is connecting with the kids, watching them really get those take-aways,” Hill said.

“They want to be better. This gives them a way to work at that.”

The Sack the EOGs program visits two to three schools a day during the two-month period prior to student testing.

Albemarle Middle’s exploratory team learned about it several months ago.

“We’d been working on a ‘Tackle the Test’ theme,” Smith said.

“This was perfect.

“They advised us to get our name on the list right then so that’s what we did.”

Despite knowing what was happening well ahead of time, Smith and the rest of the staff managed to keep the secret from the students.

“We wanted to surprise them,” Smith said.

Kids got an idea of what was coming when principal Beverly Pennington told them they could forgo their usual uniforms for Panthers’ gear.

“They were so excited,” she said.

“You could see it in their faces.”

With tests beginning, she hopes that excitement remains.

“They’ve got to keep those game faces on.”

To submit story ideas, contact Shannon Beamon at (704) 982-2121 ext. 24 or at

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