By Kristen Oelschlagel
Students, teachers and volunteers flooded the Belleville fairgrounds to take part in the Celebration of Dance, an event that has grown substantially over the years.
Over 5000 students from Hastings Prince Edward District School Board schools gathered on May 9 to dance. There were 35 different schools taking part in the event.
“It started out as a way to promote physical activity,” said Kerry Donnell, the communications officer for the school board.
“That’s still one of the main drivers, to get students physically active, and it aligns with the Ministry of Education’s mandates, but it also lets students develop some leadership skills.”
Diane Williamson, Grade 2 teacher at Bayside Public School, has been a part of the Celebration of Dance for 10 years.
“I am really pleased we had such a great day and great turnout. It’s still popular after 22 years,” said Williamson.
She said her class has been practising the dances for about a month and a half.
Instead of giving every school the music and a sheet of instructions, this year selected students made videos of the dances. The videos were available for all of the schools participating so students could learn the dance by watching.
Grade 11 student at Quinte Secondary School Jessica was part of the group at her school that created the dances and video taped them. Event organizers said students were not allowed to give their last names because of school policies.
“It was really cool because we created the dance now everyone’s going to learn it, it’s pretty exciting,” Jessica said.
Ashley, a Grade 10 student also from Quinte Secondary School, said a huge part of the event was being active.
“It’s great because it gets all the schools together and they get to be athletic,” she said.
Ashley has been going to the event every year since she was in Grade 1.
“It’s a lot of fun, I like going to it every year. I love seeing everyone dancing and how excited the little kids get,” Ashley said.
One of those “little kids” is Grade 2 student from Bayside Public School Tyla.
“My favourite part is having fun dancing with my friends,” said Tyla.
Tyla said it was amazing to be at the Celebration of Dance and it was an important part of the students’ daily physical activity.