If you think that most students don't look forward to that annual rite of spring known as New York State testing, you might be right. However, the nearly 400 students at Abram Lansing Elementary School in Cohoes -- where teachers, administrators and staff always look for new and unusual ways to find encouragement -- might not be among them.
Beginning on April 17, the first day of English language arts testing for grades 3-5, exams at the school were delivered to classrooms by several "special guests" who brought teachers their test packets for the day. The guest deliveries continued each testing day and featured greyhounds provided by Paula LaPorte from Forever Home Greyhound Adoptions; ring-tailed lemurs, capuchin monkeys, and macaws provided by Bailiwick Ranch & Discovery Zoo in Catskill; chicks and ducklings from Liberty Ridge Farm in Schaghticoke; and a red-footed turtle from Reptile Adventures.
The final day of testing on Friday, April 27 brought Jon Tario of the Classical Guitar Society of Upstate New York. Mr. Tario, who has been a substitute teacher at Abram Lansing, traveled to each classroom where he delivered the tests along with a soothing tune on his classical guitar. He explained to the students how classical guitar differs from most guitar music (there is no pick; musicians use their fingernails instead!)
Students in grades Pre-K-2 also got to enjoy the school's special guests. They lined the hallway each day to say hello to the animals and their caretakers and to listen to the music of Mr. Tario. By combining learning and fun, the special deliveries are intended to give the students a burst of enthusiasm, reduce any test-related anxiety, and give them a little something special to look forward to on those days. Below, see a video and a slideshow of 2012 Testing Days at Abram Lansing.