The Block Island Times
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The time is right for a spring dance

By Gloria S. Redlich | May 17, 2013
Photo by: Lisa Stiepock Andre Miller and Alcy Stiepock MacKay, both 7th graders, are organizing a school dance for grades five through eight.

Spring is in the air and the corridors of the Block Island School are abuzz with plans, mounting excitement and no little anticipation of a school dance for grades five through eight to be held on Friday, May 17. The event is the brain child of two student organizers — Alcy Stiepock MacKay and Andre Miller — with a little help from their Moms, Lisa Stiepock and Eileen Miller.

Recently the students, their moms and the dance’s disc jockey, Josh Maldonado, dropped in at The Block Island Times to describe their preparations and share their plans. Alcy explained that the school band and glee club had performed this winter at a Providence Bruins hockey game. Eileen said one of the most exciting parts of the game was the music that was played during the game, noting it was so infectious that “the kids all ended up dancing near their seats.” Caught up in the fun, Eileen thought, “That clinches it: we need to have a dance!”

Believing this would be the first school dance since the 1990s, the students and their parents hoped to introduce an event that might become a recurring and fun activity — ”perhaps a tradition” — at the island school. As it turned out, the last dance was a senior prom for the graduating class held several years ago. If this year’s dance lives up to expectations, the planners were optimistic there might even be two scheduled a year, “with different themes.”

Dancing for fun and funds

With the current dance planned for fifth through eighth graders, Alcy and Andre are “hoping lots of people come.” In addition to creating an opportunity for middle graders to have fun, the dance is a fundraiser to help Alcy and Andre raise money for the week-long National Junior Leadership Conference in Washington, DC that they have been nominated to attend.

In the past other BIS students attending the conference have included Ryan McGarry, Thea Monje and Millie Starr, who Alcy and Andre said had a wonderful experience and still kept in touch with students from other states they’d met.

The cost for each conference attendee is $2,000, without transportation expenses. To date, the two have approached close to thirty local merchants, who have donated approximately $2,000 in merchandise to be raffled off in baskets. Among these are gift certificates to restaurants, jewelry surfing lessons, paddle boards, T’s and sweat shirts, fishing rods and candy.

They have also been busy making flyers, assembling baskets and selling raffle tickets. People can win baskets valued at between $500-$650 “worth of stuff” — the donated merchandise.

Candlelight and white tablecloths

On the Friday afternoon of the dance, Alcy and Andre and their friends planned to decorate the cafeteria, the site of the dance, with colorful lights, a disco ball, candlelight, flowers and white tablecloths. Since the evening featured dinner and dancing, the menu consisted of pizza, an assortment of appetizers and veggies, hummus, chips, brownies and punch, which Alcy assured everyone she knew how to make.

Dress was said to range from very casual to “a little bit fancy,” with the girls tending to want to dress up, while some boys were thinking of dress shirts and jeans.

Recently settling full-time on the island, Maldonado volunteered his services as DJ for the dance. The musical fare, he said, would include most current releases: hip-hop, disco, punk, oldies disco, modern pop, classic rock and a “little cider rap.” They hoped to include break and freeze dances, as well. Eileen said they all really appreciated the time the Josh was devoting to planning and then DJ-ing the event.

In describing the kinds of dances that might be included, the two organizers clowned a bit as they demonstrated a few within the narrow space between the filing cabinets and a table in the newspaper office.

Alcy stylistically went through the moves for the Macarena while Andre energetically cavorted through “The Shopping Cart” and “Sprinkler” dances. Music requests had been coming in all week, they said, which they passed along to Josh.

Going as friends

With students invited to bring along mainland friends, the organizers were hoping for an attendance of 30-35. Alcy noted that the announcement of the dance had set off some discussion among students on whether or not they should pair off, to “come with a date.” She added that in the end, most are just “going as friends.”

With the event scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m., Alcy and Andre had planned dinner and some Wii games would fill the slot to 7:30 p.m., when the dance would officially begin, continuing to 9:30 p.m. Josh said there would be an open mike with students presenting in whatever area they wished: singing, telling jokes, or performing in some other way. Also, every half hour or so, Josh thought they would break for some games such as musical chairs or limbo.

A table was to be set up in the corridor for selling raffle tickets to parents dropping off or picking up their children.

In thinking about what their goal was, both Alcy and Andre agreed the object was to create a fun evening, but also to raise money to attend their conference, which they were deferring until next spring. Noting they had never actually danced with their classmates before, they thought that should be fun, as well.

The students and their parents were appreciative of the “great support of the school,” especially of the assistance offered by Music Director Megan Hennessy, the community and of the Block Island Prevention Task Force, which sponsored the event as “a healthy and fun activity.” Admission to the dance is $10 a person.

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