PALMER — Students at Old Mill Pond Elementary School will attend a 45-minute assembly by the professional New York-based Echo Dance Team on April 10.

The all-student assembly will take place in Palmer High School’s auditorium and focus on themes of antibullying, respect and responsibility, Principal Holly-Beth Riopel told Reminder Publishing, stating that the show’s message aligns with the school’s themes.

“Three of the things that we always say to the kids here are we are safe, we are respectful and we are responsible,” Riopel stated. “When I received this flyer [for the Echo Dance Team], the first two things that they focus on is respect and responsibility. So that really hit home and it meshed nicely with our positive behavioral systems here at our school.”

Titled “Make a Difference,” the dance team’s assembly will be “super high-energy” and interactive, Riopel said, stating that she’s hopes the event will engage the students. She explained that the dance team will focus on topics including self-respect and setting goals.

All students kindergarten through fifth grade will attend the assembly at the same time after walking over to the high school together, she said, emphasizing how visiting the high school and seeing the performance on stage is part of the experience for students.

“One thing as a principal taking over the school that I really wanted to do was bring in more assemblies and give kids an opportunity. We have had those two years where everything was put off because of COVID and then we opened back up and there’s kids who have never seen a dance team, kids who have never seen a performance on stage so it was important to bring those things back,” Riopel said.

When asked about similar events hosted by Old Mill Pond, Riopel highlighted the Grandparents Breakfast and Donuts with Dad, which are designed to bring more family and community engagement to student activities. While the “Make a Difference” assembly is only for students, the event follows similar objectives, she said.

The event was funded by Smencil fundraisers that the school hosted in October, December and March of the 2023-24 school year, Riopel stated. For these fundraisers, pencils with seasonal scents were sold for $1 each during lunch periods and at the main office with funds going toward student activities, such as ice cream parties and the Echo Dance Team assembly, she said.

This was the first school year that Old Mill Pond hosted a Smencil fundraiser and “it took off rapidly,” Riopel explained, highlighting the ease of the fundraiser for administrators and the practicality for students.

“When we got them, the scents are so strong that I think that’s a great thing for them [students]. Smencils stay that smelly scent for a long time … [and] kids can use pencils,” she said, comparing the scented pencils to the excitement of scratch and sniff stickers.

Riopel also thanked Old Mill Pond parents for supporting the fundraisers and the activities that school works to host for their kids.

lmason@thereminder.com | + posts