Judy Everett Ramos, 817-399-2025

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The Dancing Classrooms teams from Bellaire, Midway Park, and Shady Brook elementary schools are still dancing on air one day after winning the first annual Colors of the Rainbow Team Match at UTA's Rosebud Theatre December 14.

The 18 couples from the three schools foxtrotted and tangoed their way to silver and gold medals in the first-ever event.

Dancing Classrooms was a pilot program in the three HEB schools and in three Fort Worth ISD schools this semester. The six schools competed for bronze, silver and gold awards.

Bellaire Elementary School won a silver award, and Midway Park and Shady Brook took two gold awards. The schools were awarded handsome trophies, and the dancers were presented with medals.

The crowd of supporters went wild as they cheered their teams on during the competition. Each school had a couple that competed in a dance that was their specialty.

Round I featured the couples dancing merengue, tango, foxtrot, rumba, and swing. During Round II, each couple selected another dance in which to compete. For example, the tango couple danced a different dance, which was not their specialty, for the second round.

Each school had a Team Captain, a couple that was prepared to step in if someone was absent. These couples had to be ready to dance any of the five competitive dances. These Team Captains demonstrated their skill to the enthusiastic crowd.

Professional ballroom dancers served as judges, who awarded points to each couple as they performed on stage.

Pierre Dulaine, who created Dancing Classrooms in New York, was the Master of Ceremonies and announced the winners.

"It doesn't matter what color the trophies are, they are all gold. All of you are winners," he said.

Dulaine himself trained local dance instructors in September, who then taught the dances to the fifth grade students. Every fifth grade student in the three HEB pilot schools participated. These dance instructors then selected the 12 teams that would compete in the Team Match.

Dr. Mary Morris, coordinator of student services, said Dancing Classrooms will provide many tangible benefits to students.

“This program fits right in with our philosophy of the 40 Developmental Assets,” Morris said. “National research proves that if students are engaged in school, have positive adult role models, and a caring school environment, they are more likely to do well in school and in life.”

Morris said she is working with UTA on research to document the effects of Dancing Classrooms this semester.

“We will look at the data and hope to see students have fewer absences because they found one more reason to come to school and be engaged,” Morris said. “We believe we will see more positive behavior from students, because Dancing Classrooms teaches them to behave as ladies and gentleman and to treat each other with respect.”

Dancing Classrooms is another example of the many innovative programs available to HEB ISD students. This program is available because of the district’s membership in Tarrant County Youth Collaboration (TCYC), which contacted Pierre Dulaine and is acting as project implementation manager. TCYC was able to secure funding for the project from the Amon G. Carter Foundation and the Crystelle Waggoner Trust. TCYC has a 25-year history of convening various organizations to address the needs of children and youth.

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