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Bowie State band performed at a preschool. A 4-year-old became part of the show.

University color guard captain Mikaella Steward simplified the routine so the child could follow along

Bowie State's color guard captain, Mikaella Steward, simplified the routine so Kinsey Disher, a 4-year-old preschooler at Georgetown Hill Early School’s Darnestown campus, could follow along during the Black History Month performance on Feb. 28. (Georgetown Hill Elementary School (Darnestown))
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While Bowie State University’s marching band played Phil Collins’s “In the Air Tonight,” the school’s color guard team performed an accompanying dance. So, too, did one 4-year-old audience member.

The Symphony of Soul Marching Band, as well as the Sensations Color Guard, were performing for a group of students, ages 2 to 4, at Georgetown Hill Early School’s Darnestown campus as part of a Black History Month event on Feb. 28. Bowie State is Maryland’s oldest historically Black university.

“We wanted to highlight the band for Black History Month,” said Danielle McGuire, the preschool director, adding that her assistant director, Chelsi Rose, attended the university. McGuire said they wanted to honor a local institution by inviting the group’s members to meet the students and showcase their talent.

She said the students were “mesmerized with the music and the instruments and the loudness of the event.”

While school administrators knew the outdoor show — which took place in the preschool parking lot — would engage and excite the group of toddlers, they didn’t expect any of them to imitate the choreography. But that’s exactly what prekindergartener Kinsey Disher did. As her classmates sat watching the performance, Kinsey stood up — and attempted to copy every move.

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She started with a dramatic body roll, then waved her arms from left to right, and put her hands on her hips — mirroring the moves of the color guard’s captain, Mikaella Steward, a junior at Bowie State. The sweet scene was captured on video by a teacher at the school, and the clip spread widely on social media.

“I was very touched,” said Steward, 20, who is majoring in early-childhood education. “This moment with Kinsey was probably one of the best moments I will ever have with a young child.”

Kinsey Disher, a 4-year-old girl, matched the dance moves of a Bowie State color guard during a Black History Month celebration in Darnestown, Md., on Feb. 28. (Video: Georgetown Hill Elementary School)

When she took note that the child was copying her, she decided to simplify and slow down the routine to ensure Kinsey had a better shot of following along. “She could actually keep up with what I was doing,” Steward said.

For Steward and her teammates, the opportunity to perform for preschoolers in celebration of Black History Month was a meaningful experience.

“What we’re doing is setting a legacy for other generations to come,” she said. “What we do is an art.”

Steward said she hopes the performance — and Kinsey’s participation in it — teaches the preschoolers that “trying new things with new people is not a problem at all.”

“As long as you put your mind to it, you can do anything,” Steward said.

As a prospective educator, she also learned a valuable lesson that day.

“You never know what kind of mark you’re going to make,” Steward said. “You never know who is looking up to you and who is watching you. You can be an inspiration to someone that you don’t even know.”

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The Sensations Color Guard coach, Carmen McGinnis, was moved by the interaction, too.

“When I saw my girl out there in the front, connecting with this little girl, she reminded me a lot of myself,” said McGinnis, who graduated from Bowie State University in 2014 and also was a member of the color guard. “It was a genuine, innocent, compassionate moment, of two people from across the way who had no idea who the other one was.”

“Just to see her inspired at such a young age really brought it home for us,” she continued, adding that the color guard performs choreographed dances alongside the marching band and that the team prioritizes visiting young people in the community. “This younger generation is coming up, and we want to shape the world in such a way where we can connect with anybody, anywhere, at any time.”

Following the performance, Kinsey bolted toward Steward for a hug. The preschoolers got to mingle with the university students, and they joined together for a dance party.

His bank card was declined. A stranger stepped up, and now they’re ‘friends for life.’

“We were holding hands the entire time,” Steward said.

According to Kinsey’s mother, her daughter came home chatting nonstop about the performance.

“She loved it and was so excited when she came home,” said Christie Disher, adding that her daughter has always been an avid dancer. “I’m grateful to Bowie State for taking the time out of their busy schedule to come to a preschool and perform for kids.”

In fact, Kinsey still beams when she talks about the event, and the new friend she made.

“It was an amazing experience,” she said.