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May 28, 2014

School rallies to support 2 ailing classmates

GREENWOOD (AP) — More than 300 students boogied their way outside Northeast Elementary School to perform for two of their sick classmates.

The bouncy, upbeat rhythm of the hit song "Happy" by Pharrell Williams blared over the loudspeakers. Banners and posters emblazoned with happy faces and "get well" messages were held high over their heads.

And together, they danced, cheered and willed second-grader Macenzie Hawkins and fifth-grader Cheyenne Adams to get better.

Students, staff and teachers at Northeast in Greenwood banded together Tuesday to "show the love" for two young girls at the school who have been struggling with serious illnesses this year. The flash mob showed that the entire school community was thinking of them.

"We're pretty big on community and really supporting our families. This is the first time in our memory that this has ever happened to two students at once," Mary McDermott, Macenzie's teacher, told the Daily Journal. It felt like this was what we needed to do to help."

Macenzie was diagnosed with a neuroblastoma, a rare cancer of the nervous system, in February. Shortly after, doctors discovered a noncancerous aneurysmal bone cyst in Cheyenne's neck that required extensive surgery and rehabilitation.

The idea for the Show the Love flash mob came from Laura Smith, a member of the Kiwanis Club of Greenwood. She heard about both Macenzie and Cheyenne and was motivated to see what Kiwanis could do to help.

Working with Principal Amy Sander and some teachers, they came up with a schoolwide exhibition of affection.

The whole point was to show the two girls that the people around them love them and care about them, Smith said.

Teachers had their students write letters of hope for both Macenzie and Cheyenne. During art class, students made posters for the girls.

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