Cedar Valley's Big Dance

By: Todd Martin
In its annual springtime dance showcase, Cedar Valley Elementary School students moved and grooved during Dance Extravaganza, showing off their steps in front of a large audience of admiring family members.

The extravaganza is a school wide show, with each grade level performing a song and dance beneath a bright springtime sun at the Liberty Hill Middle School stadium down the street from Cedar Valley.

It was the school’s sixth annual dance show, prompting many to remember the first one, held at Leo Buckley Stadium funded through an Education Foundation grant.

Cedar Valley PE teacher Estrella Garcia came up with idea when she heard about something similar in a professional development training session.

That year, then-principal Jan Peronto challenged her staff to go the extra degree to give students their best.

That push led Garcia to recruit her fellow PE teachers and music teachers to pursue the dance event, which has developed into a tradition that builds community.

After that first show at Buckley Stadium, the event moved to the middle school stadium, making it more of a neighborhood event. As always, parents and family members arrived early Thursday with chairs and blankets to fill the home side stadium.

Each grade level, dressed in grade-specific colored T-shirts, took turns running onto the field to perform their piece.

The school’s step team opened the event and the fifth-graders split their section by gender with a girls’ dance to “Can’t Stop The Feeling” and a boys’ dance to “Turn Down For What.”

The show ended with a finale with all grade levels – pre-kindergarten through fifth grade – on the field for “Remix Shuffles.”

Several teachers acknowledged that the event was a cherished tradition that students look forward to and that works to bring families together.

Fifth-graders performed in the dance for the final time and some said they looked forward to coming next year to support younger siblings.

“It’s my last one with my friends,” said Kaven McKinnon, wearing the fifth-grade dark blue as he readied to take the field.

“I think it’s fun to watch other people dance,” he said. “I can dance and our group can dance, but it’s the other people that make it fun.”

Fifth-grader Kennedy Smith said she was excited to be part of the school tradition and said she planned to watch many more involving her younger sister.

“Every grade does a different dance, and we all do the final,” she said. “We’ve been doing it a long time the same way.”

In the weeks leading up to the show, music teachers and PE teachers work together to teach the music and the movements.

“We work in PE the week before to practice,” Smith said. “No one knows how at first, but we learn together. I don’t get nervous, because I always dance. It’s fun.”

Third-graders used buckets with sticks like drums in their dance to the song “Chainsaw.”

Third-grade teacher Samantha Thompson was new to the experience last year and agreed with her students and colleagues that it is a highlight in the year.

“We look forward to it,” she said. “They get so excited. The kids collaborate on the dance together and everyone cheers each other on. This is something they do not want to miss.”

Interacting with her students, Thompson pointed out, “they still know their dance from last year. They wear the T-shirts to school. There is a lot of pride.”