Students Learn Respect From Ballroom Dance

Thursday, February 5th 2009, 8:09 pm
By: News 9

By Melissa Maynarich, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Students at Britton Elementary recently learned ballroom dancing and hit the floor to show off their new moves.

"Not only do they learn to dance, they learn to respect each other, to be ladies and gentlemen," teacher Marci Stellman said.

The organization called Life Change Ballroom hired instructors and assistants to mentor inner city students.

"When I first walked in the classroom, it was unbelievable what these kids were saying to each other, the way they were treating each other, the way the boys were treating the girls," said assistant dance instructor Sgt. George Shafer.

The fifth graders are learning respect, appropriate touch and trust, as well as dance moves.

"I used to go to the office a lot of times so, since I've been doing ballroom, I haven't been in the office so much," student Shabryan Baker said.

The classes have boosted confidence and academics.

Lead instructor Katie Emerick said many of the reluctant students ended up being the best dancers.

"They're upbringing sometimes isn't the best," Shafer said. "Kids don't know how to leave that at home."

The students have come a long way from the disrespectful acts the instructors witnessed in the beginning of the program.

The students have earned second place in the last three dance competitions they've participated in.