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East County Wednesday, Sep. 18, 2019 1 year ago

Braden River Middle School teachers connect through dance

Teachers, staff members perform during Renaissance assembly
by: Liz Ramos Staff Writer

Braden River Middle School Principal Kimberlain Zenon-Richardson wanted her students to quiet down Sept. 11 during the first Renaissance assembly of the year in the gymnasium.

Those students were cheering and clapping as the principal was surrounded by 30 teachers and staff members who were about to entertain them with a dance. However, the students were so enthusiastic that the teachers couldn’t hear the music to start their dance routine.

“[The assembly] is a celebration, and what do you do when you celebrate? You dance,” Zenon-Richardson said. “We dance to connect with the students on their level. By doing some of the trendy dances they love to do, we feel it shows we have an interest in some of the things that interests them, and besides, they love it.”

The Renaissance program rewards students who perform well academically, have good attendance and behavior in school and demonstrate good citizenship. The first assembly was for all students, but after the first quarter, students who earn a 3.3 GPA or higher or who demonstrate good conduct are able to participate in Renaissance activities.

Student-support specialist Robert Batista said the assembly was to get students excited about going to school and about being part of the school programs.

“The beginning of the year is a perfect opportunity to introduce to the kids their goals,” Batista said. “Each quarter they have an opportunity to achieve Renaissance. We are trying to get them pumped for this, so that whenever they come onto our campus, they are thinking about this as a goal to try to achieve.”

School counselor Traci Cristello helped organize and teach the routine. She said she spent five or six hours preparing teachers and staff during practices before and after school.

“I loved doing it,” Cristello said. “They were unsure of themselves, but then they did a great job. It’s kind of nice to get out of your comfort zone, which is what I would say most of them did.”

Zenon-Richardson smiled as she concentrated on her own dance moves.

“It was such a rewarding experience to see most of the teachers working together and dancing for the students,” she said. “We kept it short and sweet to a point where everyone would feel comfortable, and it was so worthwhile to be unified as a group. It shows the students that we stand together.”

When the music ended, the gym filled with a roar of applause from all the students.

“To hear them cheering and applauding meant the world to me and let me know connections were definitely being made through our efforts,” Zenon-Richardson said.

During the assembly, students and teachers competed in a game of knock-out and Lakewood Ranch High School’s Marching Mustangs and Braden River High School’s Black Pearls also performed during the assembly.

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