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I SLAMMED the EXAM. My Classmates Can, Too.

In case you missed this year’s SLAM the EXAM rally, one of the highlights was the motivational speech of 15-year-old Elyjah Pellew. Elyjah is a ninth grader at Success Academy High School of the Liberal Arts and this was his seventh SLAM the EXAM rally. The rally is a joyful tradition at Success that reminds students of how much they have accomplished in advance of the challenging Common Core exams in English Language Arts and math. Elyjah spoke to more than 3,000 scholars, their teachers, and principals, and got everyone pumped about slamming the exams. Below is the text of his speech.

Good morning scholars!!! For some of you, this is your first SLAM the EXAM Rally. Others are already old pros. Welcome to everyone! 

My name is Elyjah Pellew and I am a ninth grader at Success Academy High School of the Liberal Arts.

This is my seventh SLAM the EXAM, and I can already tell that this group is ready to achieve the number of fours that no school or network of schools has ever seen before!

The preparation, dedication, focus, and effort of every Success Academy scholar has made us the best bunch of students in the city, and I see no sign of that changing because you are going to slam the exam.

As I look at the 19 schools in this [Washington Heights] Armory coming together — not to worry or stress about exams — but to celebrate and cheer each other on, do you know what I see?

I see scholars who are ready to make sure we earn the name Success Academy.

Success doesn’t come from your teachers, your families, or even your principals (although we love you all and thank you for everything). It comes from you!

You are the ones waking up early to take practice tests and staying late to study with teachers.

You are the ones who have sacrificed your recesses for extra help so that you can slam the exam.

It probably hasn’t been easy, and it probably wasn’t always fun, but it is totally worth it. Because now, as you stare down this test, you are prepared to slam the exam!

I’ve been where you are, so take it from me. Just last year I was on the other side of this podium, sitting in those seats, listening to someone else tell me, “You can do this, you are ready.” Now, I’m telling you the same thing. “You can do this, you are ready.”

You are ready to SLAM THE EXAM.

I want to try something with you. I’m going to ask you a few questions and I want you to respond to each one by saying as loud as you possibly can, “TO SLAM THE EXAM!” Let’s practice.

Why are we here supporting each other this afternoon? “TO SLAM THE EXAM!”

I know you can be louder. I want all of those patients in the hospital next door to know why we are here.

Why have you been waking up early and staying late? “TO SLAM THE EXAM!”

Why do you work so hard to give 100 percent effort and focus every single day? “TO SLAM THE EXAM!”

Why have your teachers been so crazy lately, thinking up new ways to challenge you — expecting so much from you? “TO SLAM THE EXAM!”

Why are your parents constantly reminding you to read, do your homework, and get a good night’s sleep? “TO SLAM THE EXAM!”

What are you going to do over the next two weeks to set yourself up for lifelong success? “Slam the Exam!”

SLAM THE EXAM! SLAM THE EXAM! SLAM THE EXAM! SLAM THE EXAM!

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Written by Elyjah Pellew April 10, 2015

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