By Brian Conlin, firstname.lastname@example.org
3:32 PM EST, January 11, 2012
A black Baltimore Ravens logo stenciled at the foot of the steps leading to Catonsville Elementary School's front door lets visitors know who rules the roost.
Four days before the Ravens play their first home playoff game in five years, the school on Frederick Road is showing its support for Baltimore's favorite team with posters on the wall and the lessons taught in the classroom.
"I think it's very unifying for the students and staff," principal Linda Miller said of the Ravens success.
Many of the students at the school, Miler said, have written letters to the team to be delivered to a "Baltimore Ravens Postal Service Mailbox" at a Giant supermarket.
The letters give each student the opportunity to win four tickets to the Ravens playoff game against the Houston Texans on Sunday.
From the entries, the Ravens will select one school to send their mascot, Poe, and the cheerleaders for a visit in 2012.
"It's an opportunity to apply what they're learning," said Miller, a Ravens season ticket holder. "If they're writing a letter, they're using all the writing skills and the letter-writing skills they learn in the classroom. It's a real-life application for them."
The students don't see writing the letters as work. For them, it's a way to support the home team.
Tyler Judd, a fifth-grade student, traced a picture of the Ravens logo and wrote, "The Ravens can beat anyone when they have 100 percent effort."
Having written a letter with the phrase "Crush the Texans," third-grader Max Johnson said he was not a big Ravens fan, but enjoyed watching the playoffs.
Samantha Lattea, a second-grade student, said Ravens All-Pro running back Ray Rice was her favorite player and urged the Ravens to beat the visitors Sunday afternoon in her letter.
A second-grade student, Andrew James drew a picture featuring the Ravens and Texans logos and said he planned to watch his favorite player, linebacker Ray Lewis, battle the Texans while watching the game at a friend's house.
Instead of writing a letter, second-grader Olivia Rausch drew a series of pictures, including a Raven scoring on the winning play, some cheerleaders, a fan and the Ravens logo.
While the students all agreed that they liked the Ravens fanfare at the school, one thing stood out for all of them.
"Our art teacher (Bridget Mohler) does the Ravens sounds on the announcements," Samantha said.
"Ca-caw ca-caw," Olivia impersonated. "She's loud."