OGDEN -- Two weeks ago, when 16-year-old Virianiana Montoya watched the Performing Artists Lengthening Strides group perform at the Youth Davis Summit, she knew PALS should be seen by the student body at Mound Fort Junior High, where she is in ninth grade.
Virianiana and many of her friends who watched the group, made up of special-needs young adults, approached the principal and school counselor with their idea.
On Friday morning, Mound Fort students were treated to a special performance by the group while they also celebrated successes of their own.
As the PALS group walked onto the stage in their bright red T-shirts and sparkly hats, the entire student body cheered, whooped and hollered, then many rushed the stage when invited to dance with the PALS performers.
"They are just always happy, and I wanted our students to see that," Virianiana said of PALS participants.
Virianiana is part of the Colors of Success program at the school, which helps at-risk students achieve academic success. It also gives the students resources to share solutions to problems and a place to share their successes.
Virianiana notices how much time students spend fighting, arguing and getting caught up in their own problems. As she watched the PALS group perform, she noticed how happy the participants were.
"Look at them. They have so many problems and they can be happy," she said.
Student Francisco Garibay wanted to take the experience one step further.
When he learned the PALS group is planning a trip to Disneyland, he decided it would be great if students at his school donated money to help them with their trip.
He and other Colors of Success members, along with peer leaders, spent two days during lunch gathering spare change from students to donate to the PALS group.
"I thought it would be a good opportunity so they could go do what they like to do," Francisco said.
Mound Fort students invited PALS to perform during their "Golden Bears" assembly, an assembly during which students are honored for being good citizens. Students receiving Golden Bear awards receive special privileges through the whole trimester.
The students wanted to share a positive experience on a day when everyone is happy, said school counselor Jennifer Godin.
"These are at-risk kids and they are reaching beyond themselves, and it is so good to see," Godin said of the students wanting to bring PALS to the school.
Godin and Colors of Success adviser Ali Thompson aren't surprised by the students' efforts though.
"We knew they had it in them," Godin said.
"These kids broke down barriers today just getting up on the stage and dancing," she said, referring to the students dancing with the PALS youngsters.
She loves that they would do that and not feel intimidated, which she credits to the encouragement of the performers.
PALS director Noelle Shaw said she appreciates the opportunity for her group to perform and was thrilled to spend the morning at Mound Fort.
PALS has been around since 1990 and performs about once a month.