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WAYNESBURG-- The energy at St. James Church was elec-trifying.
Students at St. James School walked into the adjacent building for the start of an assembly last Thursday morning to rhythmic sounds. The source of the sound was Elec Simon and his band playing their drums and buckets in addition to a keyboard.
It was part of a full schedule of events during Catholic Schools Week. Students began the morning listening to the band led by Simon, a world renowned percussionist. The Canton native has spent time in New York City and has starred in the touring production of STOMP, according to his website.
Simon is also part of the Q-Stix group which performs during Cleveland Cavaliers home games at Quicken Loans Arena.
He donned a Cavaliers championship ring for the students in attendance.
While performing for more than 20,000 fans on a nightly basis, Simon also tours schools with a message about bullying. He delivered that message to St. James students last week with a focus on respect.
Simon went around the room asking the definition of respect to a few students and teachers. Loving one another and kindness were among the answers, and each received an applause for their response.
"When we are younger we have to learn how to respect others first," Simon said.
Simon was also demonstrative in his message. The band performed a short skit displaying what disrespecting a teacher looks like.
Later, Simon led the students in a chant.
"I will," Simon called out. "I will," the students repeated
"Respect," Simon then bellowed. "Respect," the students shouted, again repeating.
The sequence was completed a few times before Simon finally said "my school," and his audience repeated once more.
Simon additionally motivated each student to believe. As the band performed a final rhythm and song, Simon invited some students to play on the buckets. The others gathered in the center of the room. They joined Simon to sing the familiar lyrics of "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey. They jumped up and down with Simon, some of them with their hands in the air.
Following the assembly, the students worked to create a skit, poem, cheer or song about bully prevention.
They performed those during an afternoon program.
Other activities during the week included a career day, a refugee awareness prayer service, a spelling bee, a spirit day and a carnival and open house.