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Kids dance and STAND during APAC event

Ellis Middle School students spent their after-school hours dancing to the beat, playing games and taking a STAND.

STAND (Students Taking a New Direction) joined forces with the Ellis Student Council Friday afternoon to provide an entertaining two hours for students in seventh and eighth grade, all with the help  of Austin Positive Action Coalition (APAC).

Almost 370 students during this “Hype Night” were able to dance in the gym, play video games, eat snacks and have fun on a bungee run. If none of that was attractive, there was a movie to watch or arts and crafts to make.

“It’s fun to get the whole student body together,” said eighth-grader Abby Nelson, a student council member.

Fellow student council member Ella Muzik agreed.

“This event helps our student body learn together about good, healthy lifestyles,” she said.

Middle school teacher Liz Blinn acts as DJ for the dance.

Accenting the best parts of a healthy lifestyle is the job of APAC, which was founded after the community received a planning and implementation grant to help combat substance abuse with positive activities.

STAND is a student-based offshoot of APAC; both were formed under the guidance of Bill Spitzer, APAC’s planning and implementation coordinator.

STAND member Hewan Dagmawi, 13, said such activities and belonging to a group such as STAND, “helps us do good things instead of bad things.”

“We can be a good influence on each other,” agreed Bane Ojulu, 13, another STAND member.

The event marked the first actively initiated by students and was free of charge.

“This is a great opportunity to involve our students in yet another positive activity,” said Ellis Principal Jason Senne. “This is just one of the events we hold during the year to highlight the positive atmosphere in our school.”