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Poly Prep High School Holds Its Sixth Annual Afternoon of Student Choreography

Great moves for a great cause! Students raise funds for charity with dance event

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Good notes: Poly Prep senior Phillip Lawson performs with his group Blue Notes during the dance concert on Jan. 13.
In sync: Senior Madeline Petrie shows off her skills during the event, which featured dances the student choreographed.
Lady of the Dance: Senior Jacqueline Chirdo directed and performed in the Afternoon of Student Choreography.
High school dance: Students at Poly Prep performed to raise money for a special-needs children’s camp.

Students at Poly Prep aren’t dancing in the dark — they’re bringing light into the lives of those who need it most.

Kids at the Dyker Heights high school raised $6,000 for two charities for people with special needs by performing at the sixth-annual Afternoon of Student Choreography show on Jan. 13.

Twelfth-grader Jacqueline Chirdo — who has already distinguished herself on the volleyball courtorganized and oversaw the event for her senior project, an individual capstone achievement all students at the school on Battery Avenue must complete before they graduate.

Chirdo, who started dancing at age 4, said the decision was personal: a close friend has a cousin with special needs.

“That was really a trigger for me to get involved,” she said.

She spent months casting 100-plus dancers and arranging rehearsals, and produced and even performed in the event herself. But as exhausting as it was, Chirdo said the experience was its own reward.

“Working with your peers for a common goal for a common cause is really an amazing feeling, and what we’re about here at Poly Prep,” the Far Rockaway native said.

The event unites three of the school’s main missions: student leadership, community service, and arts education, said school spokesman Malcolm Farley.

“This event really captures all three of those themes, and brings lets us show our community how much we care, how dedicated our students are, and how important our dance program is,” he said.

The project raised funds for Seton Foundation for Learning, a Staten Island school for special-needs kids, and the Mid-Hudson Valley Camp, a sleepaway program for the disabled, where Chirdo volunteered.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at

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