Complete with spins, dips, and an array of sizzling dance moves, the Kennesaw Mountain High School gym transformed into a stage reminiscent of ABC-TV’s “Dancing with the Stars.”
Instead of Kim Kardashian, Kellie Pickler, Nick Lachey, and Terrell Owens, there were hundreds of superheroes showing off their moves on the dance floor. Behind the capes and masks were the smiling faces of students with special needs. They were invited from across the Cobb County School District (CCSD) to attend the annual dance of the year.
The theme for this year’s dance was “Superheroes Making a Difference.”
Kennesaw Mountain has hosted the dance for students with special needs since 2001. This year, like the years past, Kennesaw Mountain students raised money, designed decorations, and volunteered to turn their school’s gym into a memory-making venue where students with special needs look forward to returning every year. Like their special guests, the Kennesaw Mountain students, who were designated as student mentors, also sported shirts emblazoned with the word “hero.”
“It is very important to everyone at Kennesaw Mountain to flood all of their passion into this day,” explained Jenna Biggins, Kennesaw Mountain junior class president. “It really helps our students feel the energy of [the students with special needs.] This is something that they otherwise wouldn’t get, and it is very important to everyone at [Kennesaw Mountain.]”
About 200 Kennesaw Mountain students stepped out on the floor as the caped crusaders’ dance partners. While some of the superheroes were a bit shy about showing off their hip-hop moves, other heroes confidently took the hands of the Kennesaw student mentors and twirled them around the floor. As their dance partners spun them, the Kennesaw Mountain students beamed with glee as if they were appearing on an episode of “Dancing with the Stars.”
One of the Kennesaw Mountain students being dipped and spun by her hero dance partner was Junior Class Vice President Halli Watson. Halli started working with students with special needs when she was in fifth grade. Her school’s annual dance gives her an opportunity to reconnect with some of her old friends from when she first felt the need to give back.
“I saw a bunch of the kids I used to work with at the dance last year,” Halli shared. “I got to go and hang with them. It made my day. I got to see them grow up.”
Community members gave the Kennesaw Mountain mentors like Halli some competition for their hero dance partners. At least one city of Kennesaw police officer joined the dancing heroes on the floor. The mayor of Kennesaw, Derek Easterling, also escorted one of the superheroes before bustin’ a move along with the students.
Mayor Easterling, who also serves as a CCSD teacher, said his heart jumped for joy when he walked into the dance of the year.
“I see a lot of love, tenderness, kindness, and hope,” he added.
The Kennesaw Mountain students, Spiderman, Wonder Woman, and other community members danced like superstars. However, the special heroes dominated the spotlight.
They rocked out on their air guitars. Their star moves made onlookers gaze in amazement. Their fans used cellphones to capture the stellar dancers on camera. All eyes were on the special heroes until the finale for the dance of the year when all eyes looked up toward the rainbow of balloons cascading down from the ceiling.
This year’s colorful memories will stay with the students with special needs until next year when they once again walk through the arch of balloons and down the parade hall lined with cheering Kennesaw Mountain students toward the dance of the year.