A Tradition of Excellence since 1657

Spirit Runs High at Finley Pep Rally

Enthusiasm was running high last Friday afternoon at a pep rally in the J. Taylor Finley Middle School gym. A big crowd of students and staff cheered the Falcons' athletes and coaches and even Finley's academic success.

Principal John Amato served as master of ceremonies, introducing coaches and team captains and revving up the crowd, which filled the bleacher on three sides of the gym. Arena music piped in by music teacher Frank Battista created a charged atmosphere. Even the Finley Falcon made an appearance, in full feathers.

Mr. Amato kicked things off by giving a short motivational pep talk on academic achievement. The kids ate it all up. This year's student council officers were introduced and spoke briefly about plans for upcoming events. Then the crowd's attention turned to sports.

Finley teams have been among Suffolk's best for decades and this year is no different. More than one-third of the student body is participating on a team this fall and most players were decked out in their snazzy blue and white uniforms last Friday.

Mr. Amato introduced each of the captains, who spoke for a minute or two about their respective team and then announced the names of fellow players. The Finley step team also performed. The Finley Falcon did "The Chicken Dance," at center court with some student-athletes joining along.

One of the highlights came near the end of the pep rally when Mr. Amato announced that he would engage in a free-throw shooting contest with Assistant Principal Ken Parham. Not many in the crowd knew that Mr. Amato is one of the state's top basketball officials or that Mr. Parham has been one of the leading basketball coaches on Long Island.

Mr. Parham went first, followed by Mr. Amato. While they both sank shot-after-shot, the assistant principal won the contest. However, Mr. Amato headed straight for a cooler of water as Mr. Parham scurried off in the opposite direction. Mr. Amato picked up the cooler and sprinted after his assistant, ending up in front of a large section of bleachers. As students ducked to avoid getting splashed, confetti poured out and covered the happy crowd as the gym erupted in laughter and cheers.

Mr. Amato got the idea for the stunt from the Harlem Globetrotters. "That's where it came from," he said. The crowd quickly filed out of the gym and students headed to their buses, smiling all the way.

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