Monday, May 10, 2010

Students show off their best moves at ballroom dance competition

from (Ft. Myers, FL):

By Evangelia Ganosellis • eganosellis@news- • May 9, 2010

1:10 A.M. — For 72 fifth-graders from six local elementary schools, Saturday was all about the

For two hours, all eyes were on them as they did their best tango, merengue, fox trot, rumba and swing.

For 10 weeks, they'd practiced ballroom dancing for the Dancing Classrooms program, a national
initiative administered locally by The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools.

Saturday's event, Colors of the Rainbow, was their grand finale.

Students represented their schools by wearing certain colors while they danced.

But it wasn't all about dancing. The program is intended to help kids build confidence and social

"It gives our kids an opportunity that they otherwise wouldn't have," said Ronda Martin, assistant principal at Tice Elementary.

Along with Tice, students from Bonita Springs, J. Colin English, Spring Creek, Franklin Park and
Edgewood elementary schools competed.

Six girls were paired with six boys from each school.

"At the beginning it was kind of weird because we had to touch each other, but then we got over our fears," said 11-year-old Vanessa Cambiano from Spring Creek Elementary.

For Cambiano, the best part of the program was getting to know the other kids.

Taurick Bautista, 11, also of Spring Creek, agreed.

"I had plenty of fun," he said. "We all kind of had a good time and just hung out."

Parents, teachers and administrators cheered the students as they glided around the tile floor of
Miromar Design Center in Estero.

Some shook pom poms, and others waved signs as they rooted for dancers.

But the crowd roared as everyone shouted out the color their child or student represented, in hopes of swaying the judges' opinions.

Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah, Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington and Circuit Judge Kathy Sturgis judged Saturday's dance competition.

In the end, Bonita Springs Elementary came out on top.

"It was so much fun," said Parker Hazen, a Bonita Springs Elementary student.

Although he wasn't a dancer before, ballroom dancing came easy to the 11-year-old, with swing
his favorite.

His least favorite? "I don't hate any of them," he said. "I like them all."

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