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Twelve Years of the Estes Black Light Show
Twelve Years of the Estes Black Light Show
Posted on 04/12/2019
The lights were out, but there was plenty to see at the twelfth annual black light show at W.W. Estes Elementary on April 11.Article and Photos By: Benjamin Rickert, Communications Dept.

The lights were out, but there was plenty to see at the twelfth annual black light show at W.W. Estes Elementary on April 11. From white gloves and flowing ballroom dresses to dancing skeletons and neon pterodactyls, visitors enjoyed a kaleidoscope of colorful characters as the student narrators guided them through a fantastic and humorous experience.

Fourth-graders perform in the 12th annual Black Light Show at Estes Elementary.This year’s program titled And the Show Must Go On featured about 150 fourth-graders carefully choreographed to popular show tunes. Students wore black clothing underneath their costumes and props, so that when the lights faded to black, the audience experienced a magical world of floating creatures, characters, and objects.

The glow-in-the-dark effect was achieved through the use of specialized ultraviolet (UVA) light bulbs, which have the ability to brightly illuminate materials containing phosphors, while leaving skin and the student’s dark clothes unseen. This year, the school acquired professional black light equipment from a recent Jimmy Buffett tour.

“The beauty of the black light show is that the roles are anonymous,” said Estes art teacher Mr. Matthew Lane. “We have kids going into it feeling really shy, but then they just blossom. They gain a lot of self-confidence.”

Lane explained that preparing for the elaborate show is a year-round project for students, teachers, and parents and that all costumes and props were sewn and built by hand. Students not only experienced the arts and arts technology, but also learned valuable lessons about teamwork. Also integrated into the performance were references to the seven leadership habits students study in their Leader in Me curriculum.

Black lights created a magical world of floating props and costumes at the 12th annual Black Light Show at Estes Elementary.The idea for the school’s first black light show was sparked twelve years ago when former PE teacher Mr. Mike Miller saw a black light jump rope performance at an event. Miller shared the concept with Lane and music teacher Ms. Janie Belue, and the teachers worked with kids to create a short performance. Since then, the show has blossomed into a full 45 minutes of action, complete with singers, dancers, and narrators, with choreography by school counselor Ms. Heather Pack and PE teacher Mr. Richard Beall.

This year’s show was dedicated to Ms. Belue, who had a strong vision for this year’s musical theme, but unexpectedly passed away near the beginning of the school year. During the final number, her photo was displayed on the wall behind the staging area, as students sang a well-known Broadway song about using love to measure the value of time.

As students took their final bows and walked behind the curtain, proud parents offered thunderous applause for another successful black light show that the students will never forget. The show had just ended, but for Estes Elementary, it will soon be time to begin preparing for another fourth grade class to take the stage.

View the full photo gallery from this year's W.W. Estes Black Light Show on Facebook.

Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin,, 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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