ECMS rewards work with play

Published 7:25 am Wednesday, April 20, 2005

By By Lee Weyhrich
Students at Escambia County Middle School were rewarded, Monday, with a free day for their attendance during the SAT-10 test.
In recent years the attendance has dropped and fluctuated at ECMS during testing periods prompting the state to step in to help. School officials were told that if attendance was down this year there would be major staff changes at ECMS.
"We have 676 students and only one missed it," Assistant Principal Mona Simmons said. "The student was out of town. We had a student burned out, their home was destroyed by fire recently and that's the reason they were out of town."
As a result of this record attendance Principal Herbert Payne allowed the children to have a free day Monday.
"I told them everyone that showed up for the SAT could have a free day," Payne said.
To attend the free day the students had to attend every day of testing and take every part of the test.
"We are very proud of our students here at Escambia County Middle School," Simmons said. "If it had not been for our parents this would not be possible. We appreciate all the support we've received from our parents."
Dances were held for the students in the gym with a live disc jockey and children were allowed to play outside as Payne grilled hot dogs for the students.
"We had planned activities," Simmons said. "They were involved in volleyball and basketball and fifth and sixth graders were doing kickball jump rope, watching videos and playing board games, our fifth and sixth graders walked the track and just had a free day listening to music. A lot of them sat out on blankets and towels and talked to the teachers and just kind of enjoyed themselves. We had the dance for fifth and sixth graders this morning and seventh and eighth graders this afternoon. Mr. Payne grilled over a 1,000 hot dogs for the students."
The hot dogs, drinks, cakes and other items were donated by parents. According to Flettie Tandy, a teacher at the school this is the second of two events related to the SAT-10.
"This is the blast-off SAT luncheon for the children," Tandy said. "We had one for the parents in April and this is one for the children."
Simmons believes that all the work children, parents and teachers have put in will reflect on the test scores this year.
Will teachers offer a free day incentive next year?
"We certainly will," Simmons said. "We'll do whatever it takes to get our students in attendance."
Simmons said that the school had record attendance for the test and that it was by far the best attendance she had seen all year.

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