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Student chairs: Marathon’s many powerful lessons

This year’s 11 student co-chairs told The Chronicle what the South High Marathon Dance means to them.

The unparalleled love and support shown by the South Glens Falls community for SHMD has been a main source of life for the dance throughout the years,” said Natalie Barden. “As long as people with a sense of empathy, generosity, and compassion stick around, so, I believe, will SHMD.”

“This event takes months to prepare for,” said Jaime DeSimone. “The week of SHMD there are no brakes. People are running everywhere to get the mats down, decorations hung, lights set, the recipient room looking amazing, the old gym set up for the vendors that come in…Volunteers, volunteers, volunteers, I cannot stress this enough that our countless volunteers amaze me.”

Student chairs for the 43rd annual South High Marathon Dance are, front row from left: Jenna Farrell, Brooke Terry, Jillian Harrington and Jaime DeSimone. Back row: Savannah Kreppein, Isabella Osborn, Natalie Barden, Bryce Law, Aidan Taylor, Hunter Clark and Austin Peltier. The South High Marathon Dance last year raised a record $837,859. SHMD photo/Gus Carayiannis

“It’s incredible that such a small community can raise so much money with no other reward other than helping others,” said Savannah Kreppein. “Our school and community does not need any other motivation to do what we do other than knowing we are financially stabilizing our recipients, but also giving them hope. The students do all they do for our recipients, not for themselves, which is so empowering and is also inspiring other communities to do the same.”

“What amazes me about the dance is regardless of people generally being awful, kids who are typically in trouble or school bullies who terrorize kids, everyone comes together and puts everything aside for a night this special,” said Isabella Osborn. “Conflict is completely obliterated…People gain a respect for life when they come to the dance. They put their differences aside and fight for something amazing.”

“I’m amazed at the dance’s ability to teach people of all ages the true meaning of compassion and empathy,” said Brooke Terry. “These can be difficult for some to be taught in life, but SHMD has the ability to show them with ease.”

“The most meaningful moment for me was during my freshman year,” said Jenna Farrell. “I had lost my friends in the huge crowd of 800 dancers. I was obviously looking lost, and a group of upperclassmen came up to me and started to dance with me. I had no idea who these people were, and they had no idea who I was, but they wanted me to feel welcomed and comfortable.”

Aidan Taylor said, “SHMD is a healthy opportunity for students. It allows us to escape the monotonous and grueling education system that we are forced into, and lets us be human beings for a little while. It also allows students to build relationships. No school has a perfect student climate, but SHMD brings South High students closer together in a way that no other things do.”

“It was my freshman year and my first time being a dancer,” said Jaime DeSimone. “The Angels Name Association was one of our recipients that year. A woman was telling her story about her child who was stillborn. She explained that she has one picture of her stillborn child and had it on her desk at work. One of her coworkers said that no one wants to see a dead baby. Then, she showed us the picture and we all gave her a standing ovation. She made me cry and her story touched my heart deeply.”

Natalie Barden added, “We at South High are in a unique position where we have both the capability and desire to legitimately help people in need, in many cases, people in dire need. Academics are undoubtedly important, but isn’t learning to be genuinely kind people equally (if not more) important? And if young people feel passionate about helping those who need it, why should they be discouraged? SHMD is an opportunity for lessons in humanity — lessons that extend beyond the classroom. To any remaining skeptics, come visit us at the dance and see what it’s all about!” — Gordon Woodworth

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