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Panther Cup Comes To El Portal Middle School
Members of the seventh grade Panther Cup team pose proudly with the Cup, winning the weeklong competition hosted at El Portal Middle School. Photo Contributed

The week of March 28 saw the students of El Portal Middle School engaged in the Panther Cup. The brainchild of the Leadership Class led by Ms. Crooker, the Panther Cup is a series of friendly competitions pitting grade-level teams against one another.

It kicked off with Monday’s campus-wide scavenger hunt.  Teams of students from each grade level were required to decipher clues to navigate their way around campus. The first team to the final landmark won coveted Panther Cup points. Tuesday’s activity pitted teams against each other in a round-robin tug of war tourney. With beautiful outside conditions, Wednesday’s Relay Race became a must-see spectacle. The majority of the student body followed the competition as it moved across campus while cheering the respective participants through the various parts of the relay. The race to the finish was highlighted by a military “fly-over”. (It was completely circumstantial but the drills being conducted at the Stockton Metropolitan Airport brought the low flying bomber over campus just as the victors crossed the finish line.)

The Cup moved indoors for Thursday’s Trivia contest. The gymnasium was filled to capacity with student spectators who intently listened to each question and eagerly anticipated the answer. The quiet was broken when each answer was revealed and students either roared with support for teammates or delighted in their rivals’ incorrect response. Each day’s lunchtime activity built the suspense for Friday’s Rally. All three grade levels reported to the gymnasium for the Rally which would include the final activities of the Panther Cup. Rally participants engaged in a series of games, earning Cup points for their respective grade levels. The suspense rose with the completion of each game. Students wondered if they would experience the “Thrill of Victory” or the “Agony of Defeat”. Their support for teammates was deafening as were their laments of points not gained.

Many of us, I’m assuming most of the readers of this article are adults, have experienced a high school “field day” or a summer camp “color war”. Those are essentially what the Panther Cup was modeled after. That is, a school-wide activity that promotes participation and engages a wide variety of students. Not exactly a new concept; however, the Panther Cup was different. Our students haven’t had or have been denied these experiences for most of the last two years. A week of activities leading up to an all-school indoor rally was a new experience. The student body loved it! Not only was participation high (either as a direct participant or as a spectator) but the level of respect shown during the events was off the charts. Students crowding together can cause anxiety for school administrators. Not so during the Panther Cup! School spirit and respect for fellow students were the norms every day of the Cup. I’m extremely proud of our campus and happy for our students. Seeing them participate in something many of us once took for granted was very rewarding to school-site staff as well students.

In summary, we were blessed to be able to “play” alongside our students during the Panther Cup. It was extremely successful and will become an annual event at El Portal. While all of us “won” through this experience … the seventh graders were the victors in the first (and now to be annual) Panther Cup!


Principally Speaking is a monthly article, contributed by principals from Escalon Unified School District sites, throughout the school year. It is designed to update the community on school events and activities.