There was a problem with the music, but the students in Broadway Elementary School’s gym kept their eyes on the door, awaiting their special guest.
Soon, he extended his foot into the open door. The students let out a collective squeal. Then, they saw a gloved hand, a peak of a beak.
Finally, the music turned on and Swoop, the Eastern Washington University mascot, danced his way into the gym to a roar of applause.
“Eastern had a contest,” said Principal Lorie Johnson. The Central Valley school threw together its 30-second video at the last minute. School counselor Judy Polley learned about it during Eagle Pride Week, and the video for the contest was due that day. In the video, they gathered student council president Micah Bell and the rest of the fifth-grade classes on the lawn outside the school and cheered for Swoop.
“And we won,” Polley said.
Swoop’s visit ties in with the school’s college readiness program. Teachers wear their college T-shirts to school once a month to generate interest in college. The fifth-grade classes took a field trip to Washington State University.
At the assembly on May 17, teachers and advisers urged students to keep up the work needed to get to college. Keep reading throughout the summer, they were told, through programs such as the Spokane County Library summer reading program. Effort leads to success, they were reminded, as evidenced by the school’s Washington Achievement Award for science. Stan Pichinevskiy, an admissions adviser at EWU, urged students to think about their future careers and what kind of training it takes to get there. Most likely, he said, they would have to do a lot of reading and “go to a place where our special guest goes to school.”, Swoop danced, performed back flips and high-fived as many students as he could. When the assembly was over, he went into the school yard with the students for recess and danced some more.
Students were very excited to have Swoop in their school. Everyone knew about the contest, but teachers kept his visit a secret until the last minute.
“Most of them think it’s pretty cool,” Polley said.