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Viral video leads local principal to TV

An assistant principal at Wilson Central and the school’s dance team were featured on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” last week after a video went viral online.

Ranesa Shipman surprised her students last month when she joined the dance team during a performance of singer Ciara’s “Level Up” at a pep rally. What she didn’t expect was a video of the dance to go viral. As of Tuesday, the video has been viewed more than 38,000 times on Facebook and has been shared more than 400 times.

The dance was posted online as part of the “Level Up” challenge. Many people, celebrities included, have participated in the challenge, but Central’s video stood out because of Shipman’s performance with the team.

The video eventually garnered the attention of the Ellen DeGeneres talk show. A film crew came out to Wilson Central to interview Shipman and dance team members as well as gave them a chance to perform the dance on the show, which aired Oct. 17.

Ellen surprised the team with a $15,000 check from Shutterfly to assist in various team expenses. Shipman also personally received a $15,000 check and was invited to visit the show. As of right now, Shipman does not know when she will fly out to California, where the show is filmed.

Shipman said she had previously dressed up as Ric Flair, a professional wrestler, at a pep rally and the students “went bananas.”

“If this is going to bring them joy, if this is going to bring them some laughter and just lighten the mood, I’ll do it,” she said.

After that pep rally, Dance Team Coach Katie Stricklin approached Shipman about dancing with the team. Shipman attended two team rehearsals, practiced at home with her daughter, and shocked the school with her skills during the next pep rally.

Though Shipman didn’t think the dance would get as much attention as it did, Stricklin said she wanted the video to go viral and for Ellen to see it. Stricklin said the video and the attention that followed was about bringing positivity to the school because that is what Shipman is about.

Shipman said that the students give everything they have when they come into her school, so it is equally as important that she gives everything she has “plus 25 percent.”

“Making my kids happy, to feel loved and to feel wanted and to feel important, that’s the reason why it is important for me to go above and beyond for my kids,” said Shipman.

Shipman said she was overwhelmed and elated that Ellen mentioned Wilson County Schools and brought national attention to the community.

“To be able to represent my community has meant more to me than anything,” said Shipman.

The segment can be viewed online at, and the original video from the Pep Rally can be seen on Facebook.

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