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Condit principal serenaded by 600 students

In neat lines, the students at Condit Elementary School filed out of their classrooms until they filled the playground. Once there, the students—all 600 of them—pulled out musical instruments to serenade their principal, Christine Malally.

The whole spectacle, which was billed as a flash mob, was the idea of the school’s music teacher Kathy Ashdown. She chose to perform the song, “Dorian Diversion,” because it is fun and fairly easy to learn. For added excitement, the students kept their plans secret from Ms. Malally.

YouTube video:  https://youtu.be/oApRWNHnxsY

A relatively new employee at the school, Ms. Ashdown has been a music teacher for 40 years and has produced the song with other schools.

The students started learning the song several months ago after the plan was cooked up to surprise Ms. Malally with a performance on Principal’s Day, May 1. But it rained that day, so it was rescheduled for Tuesday.

“My second grader is all excited about playing the recorder,” Amber Forney said about her seven-year-old son Jake. “This is all new to him, he plays a little piano, but he is really all about soccer.”

As the students waited for Ms. Malally to arrive, they goofed around and chatted excitedly. Sixth grade student Raudel Solis, 11, was clearly having a good time as he clutched his recorder and hung out with his friends.

“I think this will be really cool and fun,” he said.

Then it was time to perform. From a stepladder, Ms. Ashdown used a PA system to get the children’s attention, then she turned to the media cart she calls Bessie and started the background music.

With Ms. Malally at the front, 500 second to sixth graders played their recorders while 100 first graders kept time with rhythm instruments. The sound was remarkable, and it definitely lived up to the promised effect.

After the performance, a crowd gathered around Ms. Malally, hugging her and giving her high fives.

“For 600 kids to sound that good was amazing,” Ms. Malally said. “It was quite a feat to organize this and make it sound so nice. And to keep it a secret.”

The secret was solid up until the day of the performance, but fate and scheduling necessitated an intervention. As 11 a.m., the time of the event, approached Ms. Malally was getting ready to leave.

“I had an appointment at 11,” Ms. Malally said, “my office manager said ‘You can’t leave.’” Still, she was very surprised that the participants were able to keep it secret for so long, given all of the preparation.

Ms. Malally has been principal for nine years and is no stranger to the pages of the COURIER. In her first year, she promised that if the students raised their API test scores she would come to school dressed as a chicken. The students raised their scores, and Ms. Malally didn’t chicken out.

“I made good on that deal,” she said. “And the chicken may be coming back.”

—Steven Felschundneff

steven@claremont-courier.com