Although the Isley Brothers released “Shout” way back in 1959, the song continues to inspire people to dance well into the 21st century.

In fact, some of those who like to shake their hips to it were born well into the 21st century, as shown at the 13th annual Cha Cha for Charity at St. Thomas More School in Bethel Park.

The event traditionally kicks off Catholic School Week, and this year was no different, with the St. Thomas More preschoolers through first-graders starting the festivities by dancing the morning of Jan. 27 away in the gymnasium, often to songs that would be more familiar to their grandparents.

And many of them wore era-appropriate clothing.

“Each day of the week is a different theme for dress-up,” art and music teacher Kelly Wdowiak said during a break in the action. “For today’s theme, we chose ‘dress in your favorite decade for music.’”

So from poodle skirts to Beatles and Pink Floyd T-shirts, from Pat Benatar to Billie Eilish, youngsters – faculty members, too – trotted out the styles from yesterday and today.

Wdowiak and middle school teacher Amy Nowakowski sponsor St. Thomas More’s student council, which assists in planning the activities for Catholic Schools Week. And Cha Cha for Charity is a favorite event.

“We love helping each grade and just hanging out with everyone,” said eighth-grader Elena Esquivel, student council president. “For the little kids, we play songs that they can dance along to a lot. And for the older kids, we try to keep it to current music that they’ll know.”

Students in various grades participated in a series of sessions Jan. 27, with the middle schoolers wrapping up the proceedings in the afternoon.

Former principal Sheila Riley started Cha Cha for Charity to raise money for the Chimbote Foundation, a Diocese of Pittsburgh mission since 1963 in Chimbote, Peru. The mission’s Center for Social Works includes a maternity hospital, outpatient clinic, clinical laboratory, pharmacy and home for abandoned and neglected children.

St. Thomas More raises about $3,000 each year toward the cause, with students making contributions to dance.

“We encourage them to donate money from their own piggy banks, help out around the house, help with chores,” Wdowiak said, “so that they can truly understand the value of helping those less fortunate.”

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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