TERRE HAUTE —
As students surrounded him Friday in a school gymnasium/ auditorium, Casey DeGroote launched a baseball to Cael Light, a Deming Elementary student donning catcher gear.
DeGroote, general manager of the Terre Haute Rex baseball team, along with three members of the Indiana State University baseball team, helped Deming students get back into the swing of taking the ISTEP plus.
Artificial turf was used for home plate, with bases set out in the gym. It’s all part of a baseball-themed effort to energize students before resuming ISTEP testing.
It’s been a rough week for teachers to administer the statewide testing after computer glitches caused start-and-stop situations.
“The kids were a little frustrated, so I just said it is a rain delay, go back to the dugout,” said Deming principal Susan L. Mardis. “Teachers have kept the students pumped up.”
ISTEP plus testing will continue Monday, the Indiana Department of Education announced. As of Friday, more than 175,000 testing sessions were completed. In all, more than 1.2 million testing sessions have been completed this week, marking about 48 percent of the total expected sessions for the ISTEP plus, the Department of Education reported.
Joining DeGroote were Owen Conway, a left fielder for ISU from Missouri, who has a goal of joining the Central Intelligence Agency, while Daniel Petterson of Kansas and Jose Dove of Terre Haute, both ISU pitchers, plan to be coaches. All three players will be on the Terre Haute Rex team this year.
DeGroote said he brought the players to “send a message about perseverance and make it through tough times and still succeed. Everyone will go through adversity and the ups and downs, but you have to stay strong mentally and have a focus on your goals to be able to accomplish what you want to do,” he said.
“Hopefully we can get these little kids to keep plugging away and keep chiming away to achieve their goals to what they want to do,” he said.
Mardis said the school initially began with students being “on-deck,” where remediation was done for two weeks to prepare students for the exam. Then like with DeGroote, spring training has been held in the school gym/auditorium.
“Everyone is going to get knocked down,” DeGroote told the student assembly. “You have to able to get back up and believe you can do it, whether it is in academics or in sports or music,” he said.
“You have to study every day, take the books, do your homework. Listen to your teachers. These teachers are here to help you, not only in school, but in life,” DeGroote said.
Numerous teachers assembled on a stage in front of the students, cheering them on. “Up, Up, On your feet! We’re your fans in the stands! Cheering you on, you can’t do wrong. Today’s the day to make your mark. We’ll knock this ISTEP out of the park! S-T-A-R-S, Stars, Deming Stars!,” the teachers chanted.
Lastly, the baseball players, along with teachers and staff at the school, formed a line tunnel, where students walked through giving and receiving “high fives” as the went off to class to take the exam.
Coaches and players at Terre Haute North Vigo High School will help the students kick off exams on Monday.
Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@trib