Gremlins don’t stop ‘Thriller’ of show

LAKE STEVENS — It didn’t come off exactly as planned, but it was a thrilling event nonetheless.

Hundreds of Lake Stevens Middle School students danced to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” in front of the school Thursday. They’d been coached in the moves by their PE teachers for more than a week.

Dozens of parents captured the action on cameras, cell phones and camcorders. The small parking lot was filled to overflowing and many vehicles were double and triple parked.

The only problem was, the music coming over the public address system wasn’t loud enough and couldn’t be heard by everyone.

Some of the kids did the moves, some didn’t, and some did them halfway.

“I had no idea when it started,” said seventh-grader Jackson Cates, 12. He said he began moving when he saw others dancing around him.

Sixth-grader Kaylee Mackey, 11, said the event was fun despite the glitch. She felt confident in the moves.

“I was able to hear it a little bit,” she said.

The idea was the brainchild of PE teacher Debbie Martin. This was the second time for the event at the school, the first being on Halloween two years ago.

It’s a way of showing kids there are more ways of getting fit than traditional exercise — to put some fun into fitness, Martin said.

“Even if you’re in a wheelchair at age 90 you can be dancing,” she said.

Isabelle Berg, another PE teacher, said she was sore from teaching the “Thriller” moves plus leading other workouts in her class.

“I can’t sit in a chair properly,” she said.

The school has only sixth and seventh graders and the plan is to do it every other year, so each set of kids gets to do it once and come at it fresh, Martin said.

Participation is optional. About 700 students attend the school and teachers estimated that up to 80 percent of them embraced the challenge.

At the event two years ago, the music was played from a boom box. Students close to the source heard the music well but those farther away did not, teachers said. That’s why it was played over the public address system in front of the school this time, they said.

But the sound system is not the best to begin with, one teacher said, and the kids’ chatter partly drowned out the music at the beginning.

Many of the students worked hard on the moves and were disappointed with the snafu, teacher Sami Todoroff said.

To play the music next time, Berg said, “maybe we should just have all the cars in the parking lot have it on.”

Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439;

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