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Henry Barnard Dance Day Gets Everyone Moving

Henry Barnard School students dance to

Henry Barnard School students dance to

Nearly 300 students from Henry Barnard School commandeered the quad last week for a "flash mob dance" they had been rehearsing in celebration of National Sport and Physical Education Week.

The students -- wearing matching outfits of jeans, white t-shirts and sunglasses -- were led by a team of RIC physical education students in dancing to One Direction's hit song "What Makes You Beautiful." Dozens of parents, teachers and staff members from Henry Barnard School and Rhode Island College joined in.

"We had a ball with it," said Lou Lloyd-Zannini, principal of the Henry Barnard School, a laboratory school based at Rhode Island College.

The Henry Barnard Dance Day was created by Kathleen Johnson, an assistant professor of health and physical education at Rhode Island College, with help from Kristen Vito-Silva, a first grade teacher at HBS.

It stemmed from a discussion Johnson and Vito-Silva had during the faculty retreat last fall, when they were talking about the correlation between learning and movement. They decided to try to come up with a way to get all of the students in the school involved in a dance project.

"We said, `Wouldn't it be great if we could do something like this?' And I said, `We can make it happen!' I would love to create this with my students and set it up," Johnson said.

It became one of the projects for the students in her Rhythmic Movement class: Jack Adamo, David Banda, Bryant Cleary, Michael Haggerty, Kyle Harper, Eric Korytkowski, Anthony Manfredi, Anthony McDermott and Jamey McIntyre.

Johnson said she selected the song "What Makes You Beautiful" because it is popular among young children. The students create and taped the dance moves, and the tape was shared with the staff at Henry Barnard School.

Teachers and parents were invited to practice the dance moves with their children. Paul Janaway, the physical education teacher at HBS, also incorporated the dance moves into his physical education classes with the children, Johnson said.

Janaway also came up with the idea of having the children wear matching outfits when they performed their dance on May 3, as part of National Sport and Physical Education Week, which runs from May 1 to 7, Johnson said.

The students had a brilliant spring day for their performance, which was filmed by a local television station. (See the clip from WJAR NBC10 here.) Johnson and her students led them through the dance moves they had rehearsed, then followed by inviting everyone to join them in improvised versions of the "Macarena," "The Chicken Dance" and "YMCA."

"They were very excited," Johnson said of the students. "... We're just so proud of the students, the parents and everyone else -- my students, too -- just for being up there and being out there with the students, promoting lifelong movement and physical activity."

For additional photos of the event, visit the Henry Barnard Dance Day photo album in RIC News.