October 30, 2018
By Kelli Gile, WVUSD Office of Community Resources
DIAMOND BAR, CA--As Maple Hill Elementary second graders rehearse for their big Halloween dance on Monday, at first glance it looks like all the children are sulking while practicing the steps.
Then it becomes clear, when volunteer Sandy Bales cranks up the music on her blue portable CD player and reminds the children to stay in character.
“Remember not to smile during the zombie walk!” Bales instructs through her megaphone.
At that cue, the children fling their arms out straight and begin moving forward like stiff-legged little Frankenstein’s.
These kids are having a ball, even if their faces don't show it!
The 75 children will be performing a surprise flash mob to Michael Jackson’s Thriller during the annual costume parade on October 31.
The group has been working for weeks with Bales, a retired physical education teacher, whose children and grandchildren attended the school.
Bales said she made up a few new steps to Thriller because the original dance was too complex.
“They’re only seven-years-old!” she explained.
During the frightfully fun routine, Bales counts out the instructions “Right, left, right, left, walk two, three, four, shoulder, and zombie walk!”
“I don’t expect you to be perfect, just do the best you can,” she encourages.
For the past five years, the giving volunteer has spent two hours each week prepping and correcting papers in Theresa Rovira’s class, and then leading 30-minute dance lessons for all three 2ndgrade classes in the multi-purpose room.
“When Mrs. Rovira found out I used to teach dance, she asked if I would teach the kids,” recalled Bales who retired 13 years ago from Norwalk High School.
“And I said, ‘Sure!’”
Rovira said her students questioned the idea of taking a dance class at the beginning of the school year.
“But, then they started going and they love it!”
Bales teaches the line dance steps on stage, then walks around to help with the learning.
“I just want the children to enjoy themselves,” she said.
“It’s fun for me and fun for them!”
“It’s a true joy to witness Mrs. Bales in action and watch our kids shredding their unique dance styles and feeling pride in their achievement,” said Principal Kelly Morris.
This year, the children will also be learning the Electric Slide, Cupid Shuffle, Bunny Hop, and Lollipop.
“I enjoy working with them, they’re really cute and affectionate!” Bales shared before class.
“They’ll come up and hug me. One day, I almost got knocked down!”
The school leader credits Bales for inspiring the children to “shimmy, shake, twist, twirl, and boogie without trepidation.”
“She is our true dancing queen and has given our students a stage toshine!”
Retired volunteer teacher Sandy Bales preps Maple Hill Elementary 2ndgraders for a frightfully fun Thriller dance on October 29.
Monster Mash! Maple Hill Elementary 2nd graders rehearse for a Halloween “Thriller” flash mob dance with retiree Sandy Bales.