GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The entire student body of Charles E. Bennett Elementary School laid down in the school’s front parking lot Tuesday morning, trying to stay as motionless as possible until …
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The entire student body of Charles E. Bennett Elementary School laid down in the school’s front parking lot Tuesday morning, trying to stay as motionless as possible until they heard their cue to reanimate.
The students wore their Halloween costumes to school, so the motionless bodies were dressed as everything from Halloween favorites like vampires and werewolves, to comic book heroes, video game icons and celebrities – even a member of the reigning world champion Chicago Cubs baseball team.
C. E. Bennett Music Director Victoria Syken, dressed in spooky makeup and a stark white wig, stood at the front of the pack and waited for the music to begin. She had to make some last-minute adjustments after the school’s public address system failed prior to the start of the performance, but with the help of the Green Cove Springs Police Department and one of their police cruisers, she had a tool to play the morning’s theme music.
The haunting sounds began to play, with minor adjustments to the volume so that the kids could hear the song, and eventually those iconic synthesizer chords struck the ears of everyone in attendance and the zombie kids sprung up from the pavement imitating the dance from Michael Jackson’s 1983 “Thriller” music video.
Parents lined the berm between the parking lot and Oakridge Avenue, armed with cellphones and cameras, as they captured the memory of their children performing the dance from a video that their parents might remember, but predated these kids by at least 30 years.
“I was sitting at home one day thinking about what to do with the kids [for Halloween],” Syken said. “I thought this was a great way to do something that united us as a whole school.”
Syken teaches music for every grade, Kindergarten through sixth, and spent the last month practicing the dance moves with the kids. According to her, they had a very positive reaction to the project and tried their best to get the moves perfect prior to the world premiere on Halloween, which more than made up for the minor PA system snag that morning.
“Despite what happened, it has been the greatest reward for me as a teacher to hear about them practicing at home with their parents, siblings and classmates,” Syken said.
The performance was so good that officers with the GCS Police asked Syken to teach them the dance move in the brief time she had before returning to class. Without hesitation, Syken took to the parking lot and began going through the steps with the officers.
Though Syken was upset they couldn’t blast the ‘80s Halloween hit through the school, the performance she and her students gave was memorable for everyone in attendance and set the stage for a day filled with Halloween fun for the kids and parents in Green Cove Springs.