MAD Dance ready to greet veterans at National Airport.
Vienna Thirty girls formed a row of pom poms at Gate 5, Terminal A, at Reagan National Airport, and
cheered on the passengers as they disembarked the Southwest flight arriving in from Madison, Wis. Their goal was to give the arriving Vietnam, Korea and World War II veterans a return home they likely never received coming back from war. For the girls, meeting almost 100-year-old Opal — a World War II female veteran that had served in the medical corps in the Navy — was especially inspiring. This wasn’t the first time the James Madison High School Dance Team had greeted an Honor Flight arriving at the airport and it won’t be their last. Volunteering in the community has become a part of what the Madison Dance team does, above and beyond its countless hours of practice, perfecting their dance routines for home games and competitions.
The team is nationally top-ranked and credits its success not just to coaching by Suzanne Mansfield but to the commitment each dancer has to each other to work hard and support one another. The bonds between the dancers have been strengthened by the volunteer work they have done together as a team. Captain Samantha Lane, a senior this year on the Varsity team said, “The motto for MAD Dance is about Making A Difference at our school, in our community and in the world.”
THE TEAM has found countless ways to do just that. They have been the opening act for the Tysons Corner Food for Others 5k race for the past three years, dancing before the start to get the runners ready to run. Food for Others Board Member Sara Singmaster said, “The dance team’s participation in the race has become the heart of the event…making it feel like a community gathering.” They’ll be out on Saturday, Sept. 9 dancing again at the race start in the Bloomingdales parking lot, hoping to draw community attention to those who are hungry in our area.
The team has also assembled hygiene kits each year to distribute to those in need. Last year, the team prepared over 500 kits that Lane personally delivered to an orphanage in Swaziland, where she was shadowing the doctors treating the HIV positive and TB infected orphans there. This year the team focused on needs closer to home, delivering 250 kits to the Fairfax County Lamb Center which serves the homeless in our area.
When Hurricane Harvey hit recently the girls were determined to help. Captain, Riley Rosenberger said, “Sam and I sent out a note to the team and urged everyone to go through their closets and bring in socks, clothes and shoes for the kids and families in Houston.” The team shipped over 18 boxes of donations and added in over 250 hygiene kits they had packed for children, complete with crayons and coloring books to let Houston know that James Madison High School cares.
HEAD COACH Mansfield has always encouraged a strong sense of teamwork. Mansfield, a James Madison High School graduate herself, believes that school spirit means bringing everyone together. Under her direction, three years ago, the dance team reached out to the cheer squad and marching band to organize a school-wide spirit performance for the pep rally and homecoming game. The combined programs’ half-time show has become an annual tradition now and is even more poignant as the school mourns the loss of Head Football Coach Lenny Schultz. As Mansfield said, “Coach Schultz would always stop by our practices and talk to the girls at the lunch tables, letting them know how much he was looking forward to their half-time performance.”
Schultz embodied what this school stands for, a community that cares. His words of encouragement to the football players before every game as well as the dance team before they left for the 2017 UDA National Dance Team Championship were “Leave No Doubt.” The Madison Dance Team has taken that to heart and is making sure that there is no doubt about their commitment to Make A Difference, not just on the dance floor but off of it too.