MORGANTOWN — Slide to the right, slide to the left.
Take it back now, y’all.
(One hop, this time).
Right foot: Let’s stomp.
Left foot: Let’s stomp.
And that’s how your principal does the Cha-Cha Slide.
“Whew, now I’m tired,” Sheri Petitte said, laughing, as she worked through the footwork intricacies of the line dance that’s launched a million wedding receptions.
“And I still have to go back to my office. The day’s just getting started.”
Petite is principal of Ridgedale Elementary, a K-5 school on Goshen Road that launched Wednesday morning with an impromptu dance party in the gym.
There were 7,239 reasons why.
That’s how many canned items Ridgedale students collected over the holidays for the United Way of Monongalia and Preston Counties.
Ridgedale, in fact, led Monongalia County Schools in the annual effort that helps the United Way keep food pantry shelves stocked in the two counties it serves.
“All of our schools did a great job, and we appreciate that,” said Jessica Staley, a United Way outreach officer who made the announcement. “Ridgedale was amazing.”
Cheat Lake Elementary, Suncrest Middle and University High also turned in big numbers during the drive, she said.
The food theme carried over for the morning.
Ridgedale’s Partner in Education is Mapleshire Nursing and Rehabilitation Center — the school chorus sings there at Christmas and students volunteer year ‘round — and the center wanted to say thanks in a special way.
Activities Director Flossie Napier presented a $1,000 check to nearby Goshen Baptist Church in the name of the school.
The money, Napier said, will be used to fund the church’s weekend backpack nutrition program for needy students.
“For all you do for us,” Napier said.
Ridgedale, meanwhile, was doing some multitasking in the gym. The school held its first “Morning Meeting” of 2019, with announcements and individual and class awards for attendance. The school boasts an overall 90 percent attendance rate.
After that, a teacher’s aide punched the music. A local DJ who was booked wasn’t able to attend, but the gym was opened up to a 21st century edition of a sock hop, anyway.
Even if everybody wore shoes.
Students whooped and laughed, as their principal and teachers jumped in with the latest (and not-so-latest) steps.
Afterward, as Petitte was huffing down the hall to her office, a student peeked out from around a classroom.
“I got that project done.”
“I knew you would,” said the principal, who may have added just a hint of a Happy Dance.