The sum of $37,000 is excellent pay for a month's work.

That's how much the 1,600 students at Bishop O'Connell High School in Arlington have collected for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation after a month of intense fund-raising.

There were the usual bake sales, flower sales, student-faculty basketball games, car washes, swim-a-thons, bowl-a-thons and movie nights. But the most successful event was a 12-hour dance marathon, aptly named the Super Dance, which netted more than $33,000.

Students say the driving force behind the effort was the memory of a fellow student, Brenda O'Donnell, who died in the spring of 1975 at the age of 16. Brenda, who would have graduated this year, was the victim of cystic fibrosis, the No. 1 genetic killer of children in this country.

"Brenda was a very active student, an outstanding athlete lettering in swimming and field hockey, and well liked by the other students," said Kathleen Posey, an English teacher and student council moderator. "Her death touched everyone."

On March 1, Brenda's sister Maura, a '76 O'Connell graduate and herself suffering with cystic fibrosis spoke to the student body assemlby.

"It was a very moving and powerful speech," said Maggie Ecker, 17, a senior from Vienna.

After the assembly, the registration for the Super Dance more than doubled from a total of 300 students to more than 700.

At noon on Saturday the dance began in the O'Connell gym with music by Rush Hour, Revelation and Albatross, local rock bands composed of high school students. The bump, the hustle , the disco stomp, the bus stop - hour after hour the students danced with only 10-minute breakes.

Spurred on by visiting celebrities such as Redskin place kicker Mark Mosley and line coach Bill Austin, they continued to dance as the sun went down. Student council president Mark Goetzman, 17, of Arlington, who organized the event, even took to reading aloud from the Guinness Book of World Records for inspiration.

"He also cracked some really bad jokes," said Mark Ingrao, 18, a senior from Falls Church. "Really bad."

After a dinner break, the dancers had dwindled to 600. More than half the faculty showed up and many did their dancing duty - some less than enthusiastically, but they danced nevertheless. Kelly Saunders, a disc jockey from radio station WWDC and an O'Connell graduate donated an hour of her time to spin records for the crowd. When Jim Elliott, disc jockey from MPGC showed up, the crowd went wild.

At midnight, 500 students were still dancing.

"We could have gone on for much longer. It was a lot of fun," said Maggie Eckert.

"It was the most rewarding experience of my teaching career," said Posey. "I have never seen such spirit and happiness throughout the school in the weeks prior to the dance of course during it . . . well, it was just phenomenal."

The money was raised through the sale of $1-an-hour sponsorship tickets by prospective dancers to other students. Brenda O'Donnell's youngest sister, Megan, 15, a sophomore, had more than $3,000 worth or sponsors. She received a stereo, donated by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, for her efforts.

"Needless to say we are thrilled by what the O'Connell students have done," said Mary Grove, associate director of the Metropolitan Washington chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Last year the O'Connell students raised more than $17,000 for the foundation.