www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/harford/belair/ph-ag-ravens-harford-schools-0201-20130131,0,6195521.story

baltimoresun.com

Harford schools celebrate Ravens going to Super Bowl

BY BRYNA ZUMER, bzumer@theaegis.com

1:06 PM EST, February 1, 2013

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Purple fever has been sweeping into every corner of Harford County, and schools around the area have proved no exception.

The John Carroll School, for one, is closed Monday, so any Ravens fans there have an even bigger reason to celebrate.

Archbishop of Baltimore William Lori was visiting there Tuesday, prompting the Super Bowl-related closure.

"The Archbishop has a practice when visiting high schools to grant a day off with the permission of the administration," archdiocese spokesman Sean Caine said. "It was left up to the administration to choose when that day off would be taken and they chose Monday."

Even in schools that are not taking the day off, excitement about Ravens being in the Super Bowl has been building, with teachers and administrators more than happy to fan the flames.

Schools like Emmorton Elementary in Bel Air and North Bend Elementary in Jarrettsville were holding pep rallies filled with purple pride, while others are decorating with Ravens signs and purple everything.

"I think we are really proud of Baltimore and really proud to be part of Baltimore sports in general," Emmorton Elementary Principal Peter Carpenter II said, noting Buck Showalter of the Orioles as well as Ray Lewis with the Ravens.

"It's really created a heightened sense of pride in our city and I think it's a healthy pride," he said. "We wanted to make sure we capitalized on that."

Emmorton was planning a pep rally for Friday with "all kinds of cool stuff," including cheerleaders from Harford Technical High School and a cheer performed by each grade level at the elementary school.

Students were also planning to dress up as Ravens players for the rally, Carpenter said.

Outside the building, the school marquee announces "We Believe" with a purple Ravens "believe" sign. Inside, wreaths have also been hung in the hallway.

"We have done a lot of things this week," he said. "We declared it Purple Week, so everyone's been wearing purple all week."

The school has also used the hype around the Super Bowl as a learning opportunity.

Carpenter said a different player has been highlighted every day during the morning announcements, including talking about the player's college and community contributions.

"We want the kids to see that these guys really do a lot for their community," he said, noting the school's theme has been "Hard Work Pays Off."

The school acquired a photo of each of the six players that includes a character trait each one exhibits, Carpenter said.

Each grade level made a purple pennant to go with that, which covers the entire front window of the school.

"Some of our youngest students may not have realized the connection between the football player and their college education and how they connect to the community itself," he explained. "We wanted them to see that connection, that hard work pays off."

Carpenter noted: "When you work hard in school, it pays off big time for you."

Whether the Ravens win or lose, come Monday morning, the principal will be using the victory or loss as a lesson during a regularly-scheduled "good news" assembly.

Carpenter said the Super Bowl will show the importance of persistence, regardless of the results of a game.

He plans to tell the students: "For some of you, you may be feeling like (the losing team), but that doesn't mean you stop working hard."

"I see it as a great way to connect an analogy for them," Carpenter said of the students. "They love 'good news' assemblies because it gets them motivated ... Even if the Ravens lose, it's still an opportunity to learn."

Besides the educational opportunity, the Ravens have also clearly proved a source of creativity for Harford's educational institutions.

St. Margaret Elementary in Bel Air has hung up a Ravens banner in lieu of its normal roadside signs.

North Bend Elementary had a send-off when one of its teachers went to the playoffs in Massachusetts last week and also threw a pep rally Thursday at the end of the school day, teacher Susan Melefsky said.

"Students, teachers and staff are now busy decorating doors, adding banners and streamers to enhance the winning spirit and are engaged in meaningful lessons with our spirited students," Melefsky wrote in an e-mail.

She said one teacher went to see Jacoby Jones during a recent autograph signing in Bel Air.

"He gave us a picture, especially signed, a glossy," she said. "He was, like, all about the kids."

Melefsky said an art teacher designed a Ravens bangle bracelet and all the teachers bought it.

Meanwhile, the school has been sporting door decorations and a Ravens Christmas tree and wreaths.

Ray Lewis and Jacoby-related dancing have also been incorporated into the school.

"That is one of the goals, to be fit," Melefsky noted.

Teachers came to school early this week to practice the Ray Lewis Squirrel Dance to be aired for the students during their fitness minute every day next week, she wrote.

Dayle Kirby, a third-grade teacher, challenged her class by having them read inspirational quotes from the player and respond to them.

Sarah Palmere had fifth-grade students write "Lessons from the Ravens" and some Super Bowl Math students learned math facts that incorporated "football fun."

Forest Hill Elementary also planned a Ravens Rally, with teachers including fun facts, songs, cheers and end zone dancing, Principal Tammy Bosley said in an e-mail.

The celebration was in line with the school's theme of "Live, Learn, Move."

"To top off the excitement, the 'Ravens Bus Boys' stopped by to [show off] their pride for our home team," Bosley wrote.

Over at Bel Air High School, "our food services department is really excited and have planned some things," Harford County Public Schools spokeswoman Lindsay Bilodeau reported in an e-mail.  

"The kitchen staff at Bel Air High School has been performing the 'Ray Lewis dance' for each of their lunch sessions the past couple Purple Fridays," Bilodeau said.

"They put on a great show, and the students love it," she said. "They will once again perform their dance this Friday."

"Also, in celebration of the Ravens advancement to the Super Bowl and the fact that Joe Flacco has been 'cool' under pressure leading our team to victory, Food Services will be offering a 'SNO Joe' frozen juice treat in the cafeterias of our schools on Friday," she said.