Schools, students celebrate ‘Who Dey FriDey’ with focus on teamwork

Cincinnati Bengals run for AFC Championship fuels lessons, excitement.

Thousands of area students and teachers had yesterday mismarked on their weekly planners.

What was originally listed as just a normal Friday prior to the Cincinnati Bengals’ amazing, second consecutive AFC Championship game weekend, was magically transformed into a frenzied “Who Dey FriDey.”

ExplorePHOTOS: Butler County schools and businesses show support for Cincinnati Bengals

Across southwest Ohio students encouraged by their teachers donned the orange and black of the NFL’s hottest team riding a 10-game winning streak going into its clash with the Kansas Chiefs Sunday for a chance to go to the Super Bowl.

Surprised last year by the Bengals’ unexpected Super Bowl run, this season local teachers were ready and have often used the bonding fan excitement during school Fridays in the fall and early winter to bring their students, especially those in the younger grades, into the communal fan energy.

It’s all good fun and also gives classroom opportunities for teaching team-building skills, area instructors said Friday. Students dressed up in their finest Bengal fashions, worked together on special, cooperative classroom projects said 5th grade Teacher Tina Cramer at Lakota Schools’ VanGorden Elementary in Liberty Twp.

Cramer remembers the thrill of Bengals’ 1988 Super Bowl run as a teenager and wanted her young students to experience the modern-day “Who Dey” excitement from this year’s team.

“I wanted the kids here to feel that same energy I felt and that fun Who Dey spirit we have here in Cincinnati,” she said.

A STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) project was the day’s team lesson where youngsters constructed a mini-catapult and then flung tiny footballs toward goal posts they also constructed.

Bengal fever themes throughout the football season has created “a higher level of engagement” among the students, said Cramer.

“They are really interested in the activities and they get to work cooperatively” while listening to Who Dey music in the background, she said.

Lauren Boettcher, a spokeswoman for Lakota Schools, said it was a classroom scene repeated at many schools across the 17,500-student district.

“The energy and enthusiasm in her classroom were palpable. It’s what learning should look like …. The Bengals have given us something to rally around as a school community and it’s great to see that translate into powerful learning moments,” said Boettcher.

Some schools elsewhere in the region used the day and the week leading up to the championship game teaching students during playground time to mimic some of the Bengals’ post touchdown celebration dances.

In recently re-named Springboro Schools in Warren County — now dubbed “SpringBurrow” Schools in honor of Bengal star quarterback Joe Burrow — students formed a “Who Dey” formation while being photographed by an aerial drone.

And in Fairfield Schools’ Compass Elementary students also bonded over the Bengals.

Youngsters there, sporting the team’s colors, learned how to draw All-Star Bengal receiver Ja’Marr Chase during their art class time Friday.

Gina Gentry-Fletcher, spokeswoman for the 10,000-student Fairfield Schools, said the district-wide Who Dey FriDey theme caught on with many teachers.

“It has been a great day celebrating the Bengals and seeing how spirited our students and staff are. This is definitely something that brings everyone together for a common goal and we hope for a positive outcome for the hometown team.”

Butler Tech’s schools and programs also saw students and staff join in the fun.

“Since Butler Tech students come from 13 different high schools, each with their own mascot, having a spirit day where all of our students can rally around and support the home team Bengals is really fun,” said A.J. Huff, spokeswoman for Butler Tech.

About the Author