Former Harlem Globetrotter and current NMMI Athletic Director Reggie Franklin greets Mesa Middle School students during a pep rally assembly to kick off the upcoming New Mexico Standards Based Assessment, Friday. (Mark Wilson Photo)
Mesa Middle School students sat jammed together shoulder-to-shoulder, some sitting cross-legged on the floor of the gymnasium as they grabbed a much-needed break from their class studies Friday to relax, play games and share a few laughs.
As the band played, students hollered, clapped and cheered as they were treated to a special guest speaker and former Harlem Globetrotter, Reggie Franklin.
“It was awesome,” said seventh-grader Analicia Galvan.
But next week, it’s back to hard work and no play for the middle-schoolers as they begin two weeks of testing with the New Mexico Standard State Assessment.
“We wanted to get them pumped up,” said Principal Jennifer Cole. “They work so hard all year for it. We wanted them to remember to do their best.”
When Franklin, now a Roswell resident who played basketball for and graduated from New Mexico Military Institute, took center stage the students quieted as he began to remove sports equipment from his “bag of tricks.”
A baseball, basketball, volleyball, rodeo rope, books and a football.
“This is a great world we live in,” Franklin, who has spent the past several years as a coach and now as athletic director at NMMI, told them. “This is the United States. Be proud of where you’re from.”
Tests are very important, he explained. Get a good breakfast. Get to bed early, he said.
“Our country, the United States of America is the best country in the world, because no other country I’ve visited … there is no place like the USA. The Unites States is the only country that gives you money to go to college.”
Franklin went on to explain all different ways the children could earn scholarships — not only through sports, but by playing instruments, getting good grades, singing and several other talents.
Then, he asked the sixth- through eighth-graders how many of them planned to go to college. Just about every student raised his or her hand.
He pulled a few from the crowd and demonstrated how much money each would make, depending on how much education they had.
Galvan said as a member of the drum squad that entertained the students at the beginning of the rally, she is prepared to take the test. She plans to attend the Animal Behavior College in Albuquerque. Galvan said the most interesting fact she took away from hearing Franklin speak was his knowledge of student scholarships.
“Since I’m in drumming, (the best thing I learned) is that we, get to, like, we get paid to go to school,” Galvan said.
The state tests will define what they should be learning each year. The goal is for all students to score at or above the proficient level. They are increasingly important in assessing student learning. They also determine which schools are in need of improvement.