Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Arcado Elementary School students Mello Holland, left, and Janson Nguyen cheer during a pep rally for the Atlanta Falcons on Friday afternoon at the school.
LILBURN -- As 7-year-old Karen Lin followed a line of fellow students through the halls Friday, hundreds of children shouted, their voices booming all around: "Rise Up!"
While her tiny voice was drowned out by all the noise, it was clear that she too was a big Atlanta Falcons fan. It was written all over her face. Literally.
To help the Lin show her support for the top-seeded team, a teacher at Arcado Elementary painted the lettering and logo beneath her eyes. The young girl said she's excited about Sunday's NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers.
So were more than 300 students who got a special invite to the media center Friday. The whole school dressed the part for the pep rally, but it was young people from several select classes who showed the most Falcons spirit, Principal Penny Young said.
Young said the entire school is "crazy about the Falcons." It doesn't hurt that tight end Michael Palmer attended Arcado in the late 90s, she added.
Physical Education Teacher Kathy Muir taught Palmer from kindergarten through fifth grade.
"He was a great," Muir said. "A very happy, enthusiastic kid to teach."
Muir said Palmer was a member of her "safety patrol:" an elite group of students "who have leadership qualities." Members of the safety patrol help younger children on and off the school buses. They wear special belts that designate them as such.
Muir said children these days on her safety patrol will put on their belts and ask: "Is this the one Michael Palmer used to wear?"
She said it's a plus that students at the school have a positive, successful role model to admire.
"We want our children to emulate and look up to people like him," Muir said.
Assistant Principal Ricardo Quinn agreed. He said it's exciting for the students, knowing a member of the Falcons once roamed the same halls as they do.
"We want them to understand the message that champions are made out on the practice field. They are not made from just one game," Quinn said. "We tell them that they can be champions in life ... we're trying to instill in them the power of hard work, the power of dedication, because at some point they're going to leave Arcado and go on to bigger and better things."
Added Quinn: "That's what today is all about."
Student Daniel Bristol, 9, said he enjoyed the pep rally.
"It was fun," Bristol said. "Everybody was cheering, and everybody was chanting. The Falcons are doing great, and I'm excited to see what happens on Sunday."