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Schools think Pats are Super

Super Bowl fever has swept through schools all over New England, especially the John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Middletown, R.I., where the Patriots have been the focus of the students learning all week long.

Super Bowl week may be tiresome for hardcore football fans who are waiting impatiently for the big game, but for youngsters there's plenty to be excited about even before Sunday rolls around.

In a scene that is likely played out at hundreds of schools all over New England, the John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Middletown, R.I., took advantage of the Patriots success and held week-long activities related to the Super Bowl.

From dressing in red, white and blue, donning Patriots attire and painting faces to solving math problems dealing with the football scoring system, reading Super Bowl history books and listening to teachers read to them during school assembly, the roughly 400 students ranging from kindergarten to fourth grade have enjoyed plenty of Patriots excitement.

"I really like the math and the reading," fourth-grader Jaxon Thibeault said. "I love the Patriots because they're a good team and they're going to the Super Bowl. Reading about them is fun."

Karen Armstrong, who teaches fourth grade, explained how the interactive books relating to the Super Bowl help motivate the children further. "We looked at what areas we could focus on as compared to the skills of the curriculum that are required and we've tried to tailor it to the Patriots and football to help us meet the standards."

The school is doing so in a variety of ways. Different grade levels have been handling various stages over the last few days, culminating with an assembly on Thursday. Throughout the week the students have been reading Super Bowl and football related books in addition to their normal work. Each student then writes the title of the books they've read on a paper football and places it in a bowl. Each is then hung on a bulletin board in the school cafeteria.

The students have also been introduced to websites like Sports Illustrated for Kids, where they've read stories about how the players grew up and how they live their lives off the field. Armstrong also said her 20 students were asked to make predictions on the final score and then were required to read for whatever many minutes corresponded to the score they chose.

In conjunction with the week's activities, the school also asked every student to bring in canned goods to be donated to a local soup kitchen.

"Everyone is very excited about the team going to the Super Bowl again," Armstrong said. "It's interesting because we have a very high military population at our school so a lot of new kids come in every year. The kids are very excited, especially after the Red Sox won and now the Patriots can do it again."

Thibeault certainly falls into that category. The 9-year-old became a Patriots fan because that's the team his mother followed. But the youngster did have a problem: his Dad is a Steelers fan. Luckily, he and Mom won bragging rights after the AFC Championship Game.

"As soon as the game was over, I just said, 'Hey Dad, how 'bout them Pats,'" Thibeault said. "He was like, 'I don't want to talk about it.'"

Like most kids his age, Thibeault said he would like to play for the Patriots someday so he could follow in the footsteps of his favorite player – Tedy Bruschi. If that doesn't work out, he said he wouldn't mind becoming a veterinarian. Asked to give a prediction on Sunday's game against Philadelphia, Thibeault sounded cautious … at first.

"I have to give the Eagles credit," he said. "They haven't been to the Super Bowl for a long time, like five years (actually, it's been 24 years). But the Patriots will definitely win. Patriots all the way, 42-10."

I wonder what score he would have predicted if he wasn't giving the Eagles any credit.

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