Basketball players special guests at rally

Christen Lopez demonstrates dribbling skills for Lincoln Orchard Mesa Elementary School students on Friday. The CMU women’s basketball team made a special appearance during the school’s ROAR Rally to talk about the importance of education.

Over 400 elementary students combined with star university athletes makes for a ‘ROAR’ing good time.

Lincoln Orchard Mesa Elementary School students gathered Friday morning for the school’s second ROAR Rally of the year, featuring six special guests from the Colorado Mesa University women’s basketball team.

Kelsey Sigl, Effo Baker, Christen Lopez, Taylor Rock, Danielle Rinaldo and Kyra Peterson gave a dribbling demonstration for the students before talking about the importance of education and how it translates to being successful in life.

“This was a once in a lifetime opportunity to have the chance to bring so many smiles, and stressing the importance of academics and athletics to those kids meant everything to me,” said Baker. “Knowing that we can make such a positive impact on their lives means a lot.”

The school’s student motto—ROAR—stands for respect, on task, always safe and responsible. The motto provides a basic guideline for positive behavior and the ROAR Rallies give the students a chance to celebrate what they have accomplished, including performances from well-known people in the community.

“Having the basketball players for the ROAR Rally was great because we really wanted to connect how doing well educationally can have a positive effect in all areas of the students’ lives,” said Meri Nofzinger, principal. “These rallies get the kids going and ramped up to keep them excited about succeeding in school.”

Some of the better-behaved students will be presented with autographed basketballs from the team, and many of the students were happy simply with the presence of the players.

“My favorite part was when the basketball players were doing tricks with the balls,” said fifth grader Lindsey Schelhaas. “The ROAR Rallies are awesome because they show videos and we get special guests.”

One of the videos shown was a student-made news broadcast, featuring several students from the school interested in broadcasting. The students were able to film their “Super School News” broadcast in Grand Junction’s PBS studio, which aired on the local PBS television station.

Music teacher Judd Berry explained the importance good behavior, including the impact of the ROAR Rally and how special guests add to that impact.

“The ROAR motto and rallies are all about teaching good behavior and we like to focus on instructions so the kids can grow and get excited about behaving well,” said Berry. “We’ve had several musical groups perform, but the women’s basketball team is doing so well and more importantly they are excelling academically, which ties in well with motivating the students.”

Nofzinger thinks the rally will put the students in a positive mindset for the Transitional Colorado Assessment Program testing coming up. The TCAP is a statewide assessment to measure each school’s progress towards achieving educational standards set by the Colorado Department of Education.

“The TCAPs are starting soon and hopefully the rally today will get them going to perform well on the tests,” said Nofzinger.

Being special guests and having hundreds of kids cheering also gave a boost to the basketball team, and Baker knows how important speaking to students can be.

“It was awesome to go in there and have them screaming for us, but we think it was important to send positive messages because the kids are the future,” said Baker. “It will help the kids to strive for greater success in the classroom and to know that is the number one priority.”


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