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O'Connell students still dancing after all these years

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It’s that time of year again for students of Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington — it’s Superdance time.


The student body came together for the traditional Superdance kickoff assembly, planned by a committee of more than 70 upperclassmen March 4. The goal of the assembly was to roll out the theme for this year’s Superdance and share the school’s story of 44 years fighting cystic fibrosis. Through speakers, skits, videos and games, the student leaders educated and entertained the student body. This year’s theme, “Band Together for the Cure!”, was woven into the costuming and activities, covering popular bands from the 1960s to today.


In 1975, O’Connell sophomore Brenda O’Donnell died from cystic fibrosis, a disease that builds up mucus in the digestive system and lungs, clogging the lungs and making it hard to breathe. Students came up with an event to honor her life and to raise awareness and money for the battle against this deadly disease: Superdance. The dance has been a constant since, as former religion teacher Patrice Connolly said, “It is what defines the heart and soul of Bishop O’Connell.”  Since 1975, the O’Connell community has raised an astounding $4.3 million, including $155,000 last year. The money has helped make a lasting impact in the lives of many affected by cystic fibrosis.


 Perhaps no one has felt this impact more than Marcella Oakley. A member of the O’Connell class of 1999, Oakley now has a young child diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. When sharing her story at the Superdance assembly, she said, “My daughter has a chance at a full life because of this community, my community.”


This year, Superdance will be held March 30. Superdance isn’t just a regular high school dance. It is a 12-hour dance-a-thon students plan for more than two months. Kyle Leverone, a senior, talked about how Superdance has changed his life: “Being a part of Superdance means being a part of something bigger than myself. One of my hockey coaches here at O'Connell, Danny Bessette, class of 2002, has the disease, and with him being so involved with our school and in our hockey program, it makes Superdance so much more personal for me.” He added, “Just being a part of something so big with so many other students makes the event more significant, as I can see the impact it has on the whole school.”


The Superdance assembly was only the beginning. The student committees have been working tirelessly to ensure the dance will run smoothly. Some are working registration tables during their lunch periods, others are lining up bands and performers, and others will make sure students follow up to collect all their pledged donations.


“For Superdance 44, we hope to set the tone of high energy and unity in fighting cystic fibrosis together,” said Chritina Fomunyoh, president of the student council executive board. “We are going to be working hard, banding together as a community, to reach our goal of $200,000 this year.”


Find out more


Call 703/237-1400 or go to superdance.org.




© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019