The gym at Crawford Middle School in Lexington was, step by step, twirl by twirl, taking on the air of a ballroom.
Learning to waltz, tango, merengue and swing, Callon Taylor and his seventh-grade classmates are taking a new approach to the physical education and arts and humanities curriculum. It’s through a community partnership with the not-for-profit organization “Dancing with the Students,” based in Philadelphia.
“We get to interact with other people,” Callon said. “We get to learn new things about dancing.”
Sue Martinelli Shea, now owner of the Lexington Legends baseball team, founded the national organization “Dancing with the Students” in 2005.
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The students taking the class are sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders and will compete in 10 weeks of dance class — nine weeks of instruction, with the 10th week culminating in a grand finale competition, said their teacher, Rae Mickelwait, an Arthur Murray-trained dancer.
“My dream is to have these talented students dance at Whitaker Bank Ballpark during a Legends game this summer,” Martinelli Shea said.
She is the mother of Andy Shea, president and CEO of the Legends.
“I am so proud and honored of what my mother has created and her ambition to begin ‘Dancing with the Students’ classes in Lexington,” Andy Shea said.
Crawford Middle School principal Mike Jones said students will get the opportunity to learn the four ballroom dances “as well as the etiquette that goes along with this art form.”
The program is incorporated into two physical education classes. The movement requirements used in dance can be found in phys ed and in the arts and humanities curriculum, he said.
“It could be a part of gym,” student Lamya Stewart-Dyer said after she completed a class Monday. “You've got to move fast with the music.”