“You can see that kids’ self-esteem comes alive during events like this,” Hemmingford Elementary principal, James Walker, stated on Friday, January 22, following a unique event which brought dance enthusiasts from both elementary schools in Hemmingford together for a dance show benefiting Heshima.
Heshima is a non-profit organization founded in 2010 by Hemmingford native, Lexis Beattie. Their Dance Not Drugs program is one close to Lexis’s heart since dance served as an outlet and escape for her when she was growing up. With the help of Kim Guérin, she has been running the program in Hemmingford for four years now.
Photo: Sisters Anne-Frederique and Emma-Rose Barrette are pictured here during their dance routine at Friday night's Community Concert to benefit Heshima.
Lexis began by sending a letter home with students of both Hemmingford Elementary School and École Saint-Romain. As an alumnus of both schools and as someone who is passionate about dance and teaching it to young children, Lexis was the ideal candidate for the job.
During the first few classes, there were students too shy to even dance; afraid that others would laugh at them. However, thanks to the two sacred rules (respect each other and respect the space), dance became a positive outlet for them. Eventually, the initial shyness evaporated, and before long, the students were begging Lexis if they could put together an event to showcase their newfound passion for dance. Consequently, the C²-Community Concert was conceived. It was the perfect opportunity to bring both the French and English community in Hemmingford together as well as have the children from the two schools come together and form new friendships. Immediately after Lexis told them there would be a concert she observed that they all “got very serious about classes as if they were going to perform at Cirque du Soleil.”
Despite much practice and preparation, some students were still nervous leading up to showtime. Understandably so, since for many of them, it would be their first time performing on stage at an event. Lexis assured them that “they will leave here feeling like a superstar.” The enthusiasm with which they attacked their performances accompanied by the bright shining smiles on their faces as they danced on stage emanated pride and fully supported that statement.
The event consisted of a multitude of dances performed by groups both big and small. At the end of the performance, certificates of excellence were awarded to four of the performers, two from each school. The certificates were awarded to students who had demonstrated good character, effort and leadership throughout the 8 weeks of classes. The winners from Hemmingford Elementary were: Monica Gregoire (grade 4) and Charlie Jeuris (kindergarten). While the winners from École Saint-Romain were Layla Girard Lussier (kindergarten) and Victorianne Seguin (grade 6). Each was also given a Heshima T-shirt as a reward for their achievement.
After the show concluded, an announcement was made that unfortunately the dance classes would not be offered through the school for the upcoming semester. However, the dance classes are being offered by Elizabeth Seguin at the Hemmingford Rec Centre. For those interested, registration for the 2016-2017 school year at Hemmingford Elementary will take place during registration week beginning February 8, 2016.