On Wednesday, March 14, 2018 Peter Gruber International Academy (PGIA) 8th grade students stepped into the limelight during Dancing Classrooms VI culminating event! PGIA Director, Gloria Zakers opened the event by thanking "Dancing Classrooms for supporting our school and keeping the program here even after the hurricanes when we weren't able to fund the program."
Dancing Classrooms started in only two schools in 1994 with Piere Dulaine a professional ball room dancer who as a young person, had moved from Palestine over to Birmingham, England and really struggled with self confidence and self esteem. It was through dancing that allowed him to stand a little taller and gain confidence. When he was older and a young professional, Dulaine wanted to give that back to the young people. Today, Dancing Classrooms is in over 30 locations nationally and internationally. Dancing Classrooms VI has been in the Virgin Islands since 2009 and last year served 1,000 student - 5,000 students have participated in program overall.
Dancing Classrooms VI's culminating event was a demonstration of a lectured lesson. It was the students' 19th lectured lesson - keep in mind four of those were before the hurricanes- and conducted under the direction of Mary Capella, teaching artist.
MYP Interdisciplinary Art and PGIA Visual Art & Art Coordinator, Jana Ferguson has participated with Dancing Classrooms for four years. Eighth grade students use their art period to participate in the Dancing Classrooms VI program. "Dance is a form of Art and as a Interdisciplinary Art educator, I try to engage students in as many Art forms as possible! Dance and Visual Art are fused together by incorporating Dance inspired Artwork. This enhances student learning by encouraging research, creation and a deeper understanding of the dance, where it originates and what it represents" says Ferguson.
"Capella has been a wonderful leader for the 8th graders this year" says Ferguson, adding "she has been flexible, understanding and determined through hurricanes, schedule changes, student trips, you name it! Mr. Passerella started Dancing Classrooms VI at the beginning of the year, but after the hurricanes the program was put on hold. The three of us together, along with our unstoppable students, were a strong team!"
Aside from teaching our students ballroom dancing, the program challenges them to get out of their comfort zone, respect one another and respect themselves. The younger students are excited to enter the program and the older students love to watch and dance along, reminiscing on their own experiences. It has become a tradition at the PGIA.