Over a hundred and forty students from Huron Christian School (HCS) in Clinton piled onto buses this past month, heading to three neighbouring communities to share an exciting message with as many people as they could—that Jesus is alive.
Staff and students at HCS found empty streets and parking lots in Clinton, Exeter and Goderich, where they performed a flash mob to the song Rise Up by Lauren James, in hopes of demonstrating the true reason to celebrate the Easter season in a unique and powerful way.
“This was our way of taking our message outside of the walls of the school and impacting our community,” shared Principal Nick Geleynse. “At Christmas, we always have a carolling assembly here at the school, and afterwards we break out into groups and go carolling in the community—in senior’s homes, grocery stores, and local businesses. The message of Easter is even more powerful and foundational to what we believe, and that message needs to get out there as well.”
For over a month, staff and students practiced the flash mob in their classrooms and each week after chapel they practiced with the entire student body in the gym. Staff members prepared by watching an instructional video on YouTube that demonstrated the choreography for the song and how to teach it to their students.
Nicola, a student in grade three at HCS, shared a bit about what it was like when they were first told they would be participating in a flash mob. “When we first started doing the flash mob, there was a teacher in charge who explained what a flash mob was and how to do it—we were pretty excited!”
“It was actually pretty complicated the first time we tried it, because we didn’t know any of the moves,” shared Thomas, another grade three student at HCS. “We didn’t even know the song at first.”
“It was fun to see the excitement build in the classrooms,” continued Mr. Geleynse. “Some of the older students in grades seven and eight paired up with the younger students to help them, and it became a real team effort.”
Deciding where to perform the flash mob proved to be a bit of a challenge within their smaller urban center. Huron Christian School draws families from communities all around Clinton, and the students wanted their performance to be visible in each of those different areas as well.
“We tried to find areas in Huron County that are more heavily populated,” said Mr. Geleynse. “We don’t have a big shopping mall or somewhere that we could go where there would be a natural gathering of people, so we had to find places where we might be able to catch people’s attention. We ended up choosing parking lots in front of grocery stores in Goderich and Exeter, and in Clinton we chose a parking lot area in the centre of town where we could present our flash mob without blocking traffic.”
The day of the performances ended up being a clear, cold day. “The students were pretty cold for the first one,” laughed Mr. Geleynse. “We were just really thankful that the sun was shining a bit, because the day before we went out, the weather was terrible. By the time we got to the second place, things were starting to warm up a little.”
Despite the chilliness of the morning, the students were excited to share the flash mob that they had been working so hard to prepare. One of the goals of presenting these flash mobs in the community was to have students experience a new and unique way of hearing, and then telling, the story to others. Joel, a student in grade four at HCS, reflected that goal when he shared, “You can read the Easter story over a hundred times, but when you act it out to a song like this, it suddenly becomes alive in a new way.”
“It’s like we were shouting the message that He’s not dead…He’s alive! He’s really alive!” Thomas shared enthusiastically.
“We did the flash mob to the song Rise Up, and in the song people are celebrating that Jesus is alive,” added his classmate Nicola. “So I’m pretty sure that the message that people got when they were watching us was that Jesus is alive and that He’s coming back.”
According to grade five student Liam, one of the most difficult parts of the day was during the first performance of the flash mob. “Everyone was super nervous about messing it up,” he shared, “and we wondered if anyone would come out to watch.” He continued by saying, “It felt a little hard to get started, but after the first time we did it, we relaxed and it was a lot of fun.”
For Julia, a grade six student at HCS, the most exciting part of the event was seeing the whole school do something together that they normally wouldn’t do. “It was fun to see everyone working together as a team, praising God together,” she shared.
Joel was excited to experience the reaction of those who gathered to watch the flash mob. “Everyone kind of had a different reaction,” he described. “One person from my class saw a woman who was walking by and then stopped to watch. While we were doing our dance, she put her hand on her heart and looked up and cried.”
Initially, Mr. Geleynse admitted that he wasn’t sure how or even if they had reached very many people outside of their own community with their message. “I guess you hope that you’ll draw large crowds, like you see with flash mobs on YouTube and places like that,” he commented. He soon recognized that the message has continued to spread even since they have completed their performances in the neighbouring communities.
“We have gotten a huge number of hits on our Facebook page where we posted the video,” he shared. “I think the last time I checked, it has been viewed over twelve thousand times.” He admitted it wasn’t until after his initial discouragement about numbers that he realized that God can use other mediums to spread his message to others. “I know that there are people watching our video that are not connected to our school in any way at all. We have no idea of the faith perspective of the people who are watching this, or how the message will affect them.”
Mr. Geleynse emphasized that his prayer is for God to use whatever means are available, including the live performances done by his students, to reach into the hearts of others.
“If you think of it,” he commented, “over ten thousand people have seen our performances. Can you imagine the students doing the flash mob in front of ten thousand people? That’s like filling a stadium.”
Experiencing their vision becoming a reality was powerful for Mr. Geleynse and his staff. “You have a vision or a dream of what [it] could be, and then you get to see this idea morph into a powerful reality—and the reality reached way beyond what any of us could’ve expected it to become,” he shared. “It’s hard to put into words how exciting this is for us.”
“All of the students that were involved in the flash mob caught the mission of our school in this venture,” concluded Mr. Geleynse. “This is what we’re out there to do—to share our story with others.”