School starts Fridays with a dance party

Pajama-clad Stoney Creek Elementary School Principal Tiffany Jackson greets one of her students

Dressed in red flannel pajamas and clutching a teddy bear, Stoney Creek Elementary School principal Tiffany Jackson was dressed for success on a recent Friday morning. 

Jackson danced to silly music blasting from speakers and hugged or high-fived every pupil who was dropped off at the front door. Friday mornings mean dance parties at Stoney Creek, the district school for nearly 500 kindergartners through second graders. 

Inside the school’s gymnasium, pajama-clad students bounced, twirled and hand-standed to the music, which played from 8:15 a.m. until 8:35 a.m., when their teachers lined them up to get to their classrooms for the last school day of the week.

“We do this to get kids excited about coming to school, including on Friday,” said Jackson, a second-year principal who started the tradition last year. 

Stoney Creek Elementary School first grader Jerimya Leasure celebrates her recovery from cancer with Principal Tiffany Jackson

Do the dance parties work? “We have had only one tardy today,” Jackson said. “That’s awesome.”

“We dance because we want to make Friday special,” said 7-year-old Ayla Cole as she prepared to enter her second grade classroom.

“We get to make new friends,” said classmate Kwame Offeh, who was practicing his handstands.

“It’s a great way to start our day,” said Jaime DeVries, a kindergarten teacher who joined Jackson at the front door. “They really get excited.”

On a recent Friday, the teachers and children also wore pajamas and brought a dollar as part of a “PJammin for Kids with Cancer” fundraising event. One of the students, first grader Jerimya Leasure, was featured after she was successfully treated for cancer last year.

The Friday dance parties are also fun for parents dropping their children off to school, Jackson said. “They follow the traffic circle rules better on Friday,” she said with a grin.

James Harger
James Harger reported on West Michigan's economy, courts and politics for The Grand Rapids Press and Mlive.com for more than 37 years. He also is employed as Servanthood Leader at Immanuel Lutheran Church in downtown Grand Rapids. A graduate of Central Michigan University, he also has worked for publications in Holland, Mount Pleasant and Lansing. He is married to Lisa and has one daughter, who lives in Ann Arbor. Read James' full bio or email James.

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