In some ways, Linda Lemmon's schedule Tuesday was probably like many others for a superintendent.

She started early, around 7 a.m., to meet with a parent, and the day ended around 9:30 or 10 p.m., after a budget meeting.

But in the afternoon, she danced, called out stage directions, whispered forgotten lines and made costume adjustments.

Known as Northern York County School District's "dancing superintendent," Lemmon has choreographed and directed the elementary school musical for 18 years, since she started the event as principal at Dillsburg Elementary School. Since she'll be retiring in June, this year's production of "Beauty and the Beast Jr." will be her last show.

"It's a labor of love for me," she said of the musical. "It keeps me in touch with the kids, and I need that, personally."

Lemmon has danced since she was a child, and once wanted to be a Rockette but found she wasn't tall enough. She started the musical, open to grades three through five, as a way to incorporate dance in the schools.

She's insisted teachers get involved, too, so they help with costume changes and lights. It gives them a way to work together with kids on something other than academics, she said.

Meg Foster, a special interest program teacher who helps with the microphones for the musical, said Lemmon's continued involvement has given students a different relationship with their superintendent.

"These kids have a better understanding of their superintendent than any other kids," she said.

Nate Curry, a freshman at Northern High School, was watching Tuesday's rehearsal. He appeared the elementary musical every year he could. He was a bit surprised when he learned Lemmon was a dancer, he said.

"I never knew she could do that," he said.

Jeff Clifton, principal at South Mountain Elementary School, serves as assistant director. Lemmon hired him as a teacher when she was principal at Dillsburg years ago.

When she began moving through the ranks, he said, some waited to see if she'd be too busy to continue with the musical.

"But it's her baby," he said.

Louise Best retired last year as a fifth-grade teacher at Dillsburg Elementary, but returned to help with Lemmon's last show.

The musical has kept the superintendent in touch with new kids moving through the elementary school, Best said. She and the elementary teachers gather each year to go see the high school play and watch their former students all grown up.

Clifton said Lemmon will still call students by the names of the characters they played in elementary school.

The show has evolved over the years, Clifton said, but Lemmon hasn't "backed off the throttle." She even added new elements this year, like having multiple levels on stage for the first time.

"She wants to go out with a bang," he said.
@angiemason1; 771-2048

If you go

Students from Northern York County School District's four elementary schools will hold two performances of "Beauty and the Beast Jr." in the high school auditorium.

A performance will be held at 4:15 p.m. today. Admission is free, but seats are first come, first served.

Another show will be 7 p.m. Friday, and admission is $3 for reserved seats. Supt. Linda Lemmon said only a few tickets are left for Friday's show.