Both schools used a sort of viral advertising to build anticipation for the rallies, the purposes of which were not revealed in advance.
"Blow the Top Off," the theme for the elementary school's competitive initiative, got students' attention by holding bubble-gum blowing contests in each classroom, then having the championships for each grade during the assembly in a gym that smelled slightly of cotton candy.
The students entered the gym to the song "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," as several teachers and even Principal Ann Taylor got their groove on. There were spontaneous cheers of "Wildcats! Wildcats! Wildcats!"
Before the bubble blowing contest, however, the real reason for the pep really — whether the students realized it or not — was revealed.
"It is time for all of you to step up to the plate," said Pebbles Lancaster.
"Wouldn't it be nice … to be No. 1 in academics," she asked of the receptive crowd.
The students were shown a sign of a mountain with a mountain climber halfway to the summit. The mountain climber represents the school's proficiency rating — 77.2 percent.
The summit represents the goal of 100 percent, which the state has given a deadline of 2014 to meet.
The sign, to be updated yearly, will be hung outside the school for the community to see, charting the progress hopefully occurring inside.
After the bubble blowing heats, Principal Taylor reminded the students of their role in reaching the state's goal before dismissing them back to class.
"Only you can help us be No. 1," she said. "Each grade is very important, and each student is very important."
While the elementary school used bubble gum to generate interest in the kick-off, the high school used a buzz-generating advertising campaign. For several weeks, teachers and faculty told students "It" was coming.
At their pep rally in Thursday afternoon, still not knowing what "It" was, students were treated to a performance by The Extremes. The group of nine teachers, dressed in evening (prom?) dresses, lip synced to "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." When the teachers finished their number and turned around, they revealed a clue that had been taped letter by letter to their rears: "Do your best."
Librarian and master of ceremonies Crystal Fuller may have inadvertently gotten some hopes up when she began using a skiing analogy to describe "It."
Fuller explained that the ski-instructors at the school (teachers) hadn't been giving their skiers enough equipment to be successful down the slope. It was perhaps an ironic analogy, as the high school is also using a sign of a mountain to chart their progress — a mountain they hope to climb, not ski down.
"We haven't been giving you all the equipment you need to be successful," Fuller said. "That's what It is."
For the rest of this story, please see this week's edition of The Cadiz Record.