BY MARISSA GALLO, email@example.com
12:34 PM EST, January 20, 2012
The gymnasium at Ring Factory Elementary School in Bel Air was filled with Purple Pride Friday morning.
Poe, the Ravens marching band and cheerleaders made a stop at the school for a pep rally before Sunday's big AFC championship game against the New England Patriots. From the looks of Ring Factory's students and staff, it's safe to say that everyone had Ravens fever.
First grader Caitlyn Messenger, a student in Kim Hemling's class, is the one responsible for the festivities.
Caitlyn had entered a picture she drew into a contest the Ravens were holding and was selected as a winner. Her prize: A rally at her school.
Ring Factory was one of only seven schools in the entire state to win the honor.
Friday morning, parents and grandparents, almost all in Ravens jerseys and purple outfits, sat on the bleachers, as the school's 500-plus students filed into the gymnasium and sat down on the floor.
There were children with purple hair, pompoms and a few with homemade signs that read "Go Ravens."
Five members of the school's special education department decided to go one step further and made a tribute to Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco — a mustache made out of construction paper and glitter.
Laura Burton and Lisa Scarborough, both in sparkly fu manchu mustaches and Ravens jerseys, said everyone's been filled with excitement in anticipation of the rally.
Burton said when the announcement was made earlier that week that their school was chosen for the rally, they screamed.
The rally was the second big announcement Ring Factory had this week, as the school was named a Blue Ribbon School — one of six in the state — for their high achievement in reading and math, school leadership and professional development.
Music played in the gym, but was drowned out by the students chanting, "Let's go Ravens!" Staff kept them entertained by leading the crowd in cheers. Even one boy — the only one wearing a Patriots jersey — joined in on the fun.
As the moment grew closer, the screams got louder than pre-teens at a Justin Bieber concert.
Finally, Poe, the Ravens beloved mascot, came dancing out in all his glory and ran down through the crowd of students as the flocked to him, giving him high-fives.
The Ravens Marching Band appeared on the stage and began playing music as the cheerleaders, complete with gold and purple pompoms, jogged out.
The kids were mesmerized by their tricks, male cheerleaders hoisting them up into the air and catching them as they twirled back down.
One male cheerleader kept the crowd going, asking, "Are you ready for Purple Friday?"
They definitely were.
Caitlyn, the girl the crowd had to thank for that day's rally, lead the cheerleaders, chanting, "Let's go, Ravens" into a microphone. She waved her gold and purple pompoms into the air and danced along with the cheerleaders.
A woman with a real raven perched on her arm slowly walked past the students, the bird unfazed by the music and yelling. The children gazed in amazement, telling each other, "That's so cool."
The band never stopped playing songs, such as The White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" and Europe's "The Final Countdown." At one point, the male cheerleader leading the pack pulled several students up near the stage, encouraging them to bust out their best dance moves.
As the rally drew to a close, the entire crowd stood up and danced, cheering as Poe, the band and cheerleaders waved goodbye.
"It's been fabulous," Ring Factory Principal H. Earl Gaskins said of the school's spirit. "[The Rally] is a great way to send off an amazing week."