CENTRAL GLENDALE — First- and second-graders at R. D. White Elementary School on Monday donned black paper fedoras sparkling with silver glitter as they serenaded hundreds of fellow classmates with two Michael Jackson tunes in tribute to his life.
Two weeks before the first anniversary of the pop icon's death, the first- and second-graders stood outside on the school's footsteps and belted out the lyrics to "Heal the World" and "I'll Be There" while using hand gestures to illustrate the songs.
"He was one of my favorite singers, and I love watching his good moves," said student Demitri Bedoian,who wore a Jackson-inspired outfit. "He inspired so many different artists."
Demitri, a fourth-grader, performed in this year's school talent show as Jackson.
The student performers practiced their morning routine for a month before the showcase, first-grade teacher Scarlet Vartanian said.
With the one-year anniversary of Jackson's death coming up June 25, Vartanian said the students decided to memorialize him by singing two songs during the school's final flag ceremony of the school year, which ends Friday.
"We talked about the importance of Michael Jackson's message for the world: love," she said. "We also talked about how he worked very hard to make the world a better place by his songs and all his humanitarian actions during his life."
"Heal the World" and "I'll Be There" were selected for the performance, Vartanian said, because the lyrics best illustrated Jackson's message.
"We wanted them to sing those two songs because it was about making the world a better place, and the second was about love and compassion," she said.
Students also sang a song about self-discipline, which was a character and ethics word that they learned this month, Vartanian said.
Parent Wendy Lavalle filmed and cheered her daughter, Penelope Yañez, as she performed.
Penelope practiced daily with her class to get the routine down pat, Lavalle said.
Mozammel Haque's daughter, Marjina Haque, was excited about getting the chance to participate in a class performance honoring the late King of Pop, he said.
"I think it's a very good way to pay tribute to an American hero," he said.