Pep Rally Time At The King Open School

Students at the King Open School got a real treat one recent afternoon. It was playoff time for the Elementary Basketball teams so that also meant it was Pep Rally time. Dan Fusco, the coach of the school’s Boys and Girls teams, has a tradition of honoring the student-athletes with a Pep Rally that most of the school attends. The show has been known to be quite a spectacle, and this year was no exception.

Fusco, also affectionately known as Mr. F, began these Pep Rallies 11 years ago at the Harrington school. Since then it has grown each year into what it is today, an event that many call “the best day of the year” and one that will always be remembered. Fusco tries to out-do the prior year’s show each time. The last four have been held at the Peabody School, and he claims that he would “probably have had to set myself on fire to beat the last one” if he hadn’t been transferred.

On Monday, May 21, students in grades 3-8 found their seats in the auditorium not knowing what to expect, but ready for a positive and entertaining afternoon, having just finished MCAS testing the Friday before. The stage was nicely decorated with large banners, balloons, and streamers, and a slide show of pictures from the season played on a screen toward the back of the stage. Suddenly, Welcome to the Jungle began bellowing out from stereo speakers and the school’s basketball teams exploded through the paper banners and headed to their seats at the back of the auditorium. One player, Antonia Tager, remained on the stage and gave a heartfelt introduction of Mr. F. He then took the stage and the show began.

The first thing that followed was a flawless violin performance of the Star Spangled Banner by 6th grader Jeremy Klein. Immediate following, a drummer, a bass Guitar, a saxophonist, and a pianist joined him on the stage, playing a Dropkick Murphys tune reminiscent of the entrances of Jonathan Papelbon. Suddenly, the pace slowed down and four singers joined the band on stage to sing We Are Young. The crowd has already had a ball and it was only 10 minutes into the Rally.

As Fusco returned to the stage after the performance, he proceeded to speak from the heart about the positive virtues of each and every player. After the player was introduced, a song would play and the student would come down to the stage to embrace Mr. F.. Girls were handed flowers and there were even 22 inch trophies for the MVP’s and the “Most Improved Players”. Even students in the audience won prizes. Several basketballs, sneaker bags, team jerseys, and even an MP3 player was given away.

Fusco has been known for going out of his way to make the athletes’ experience on the team special. Cambridge has a league that has a No-Cut Policy, allowing every 7th and 8th grader a chance to play. Mr. F. sees this as an opportunity to get as many children as possible to be active and a part of a team. Ideas like the Pep Rally are one of best tools he’s found to make every elementary student count the days until they are old enough to join the team. Fusco cannot remember a time when he did not have the largest team in the city, despite coaching at several different schools over the last decade.

As the structure of our Middle Schools changes in September, there is some uncertainty about how athletics will look in the years to come. Fusco hopes that whatever setup is adopted, there will still be room for events like this for as long as he is still teaching.


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