Thursday, February 04, 2010

One Last Dance

From the (Northern Ohio):

By Jacob Lammers

Save the last dance for Marlene Waller.

The Immaculate Conception School teacher celebrated her upcoming retirement with a lively cha cha and the hustle Wednesday afternoon.

Waller, an amateur dance competitor, surprised her students with her dance routine during the ICS Talent Show.

"One of the teachers in charge of the Talent Show — she's been asking for a couple years (for Waller to dance). We just kept saying no, no," Waller said."

But now since it's the last year at Immaculate (Conception School), we thought why not, let's have fun with it."

Bishop Richard Lennon, of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, announced last year that Immaculate Conception School in Willoughby would merge with Our Lady of Mount Carmel School in Wickliffe. The new school, to be named Mater Dei Academy, which means Mother of God, will include both schools in Wickliffe.

Waller has been teaching for 30 years — 27 of those years were spent at Immaculate. She plans to retire at the end of this school year.

"I've had a long career. I've loved every moment of it," Waller said. "It's time to leave and go on to a new life."

Principal Kathy Hrutkay said Waller has been a good teacher and added that it's sad that many other staff members will have to say goodbye at the end of the school year."

I think all of us are going to miss this school. It's a family," Hrutkay said. "It's a good mixture. There's a good rapport between the school and parents. As a school, it's going to be missed."

During the Talent Show, Immaculate Conception students performed various dance routines, several sang their favorite songs and even one student told jokes.

When the time came for Waller to hit the dance floor with Carlos Sucharetza, her dance partner of four years, several students were taken aback.

Wearing a silver and black dress, Waller spun circles around her partner and ended the routine with a dip. Her grandchild Brooke Waller, who also is one of the elder Waller's students, was amazed by the routine.

"It was good," Brooke said.

Waller and Sucharetza started dancing four years ago at Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Willoughby. In 2009, the couple took home first place in a total of 34 dances at the Ohio Star Ball and the Cleveland Dance Sport Challenge — both are ballroom competitions.

The couple, who plan to wed in August, first met because of a desire to try dancing.

"We just enjoy it. We have a good time," Sucharetza said. "It's good exercise."

While Waller's teaching career will be drawing to a close, she plans to continue dancing.

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