Eight Teams Dance for Ballroom Championship
After 12 weeks, hundreds of hours, six dances and thousands of steps, 48 couples from eight elementary schools will take their last turn about the floor tonight in the Second Annual Having A Ball Championship dance competition at the Sheraton Hotel, 301 E. North Water Street.
Students from Beethoven, Burke, Earhart, Hamilton, Hinton, Lavizzo, Pershing West and Turner-Drew elementary schools beat out 22 other schools in qualifying and semi-final competitions for a chance to dance for gold in the ballroom dancing competition.
“’Having A Ball’ has helped our students to build character and confidence, and expand their expertise across the curriculum,” said Rufus Williams, President, Chicago Board of Education. “It offers a creative way to spark intellectual interest while having a great time.”
The fifth-grade students have worked for three months perfecting their moves while expanding their minds in the Having a Ball Program. The program, modeled after a similar program in New York City, combines dance lessons with academics – including history, culture, geography and music – and character building. Students study the culture and country of origin for each dance before learning the steps. Physical fitness and fine arts education were also components of the program. Each school has one couple to dance each dance – the foxtrot, rumba, merengue, tango, waltz and swing – plus alternates.
Nearly 900 students at 30 schools participated in the citywide program, which began in November. The fifth grade classes spent two hours a week learning the dances, with extra time spent after school practicing for the competitions.
More than 200 children from 18 schools competed in the semifinals last weekend. Students from eight schools emerged with gold ribbons and the right to compete tonight for the championship trophy.
The Chicago Public Schools system is the nation’s third largest school system. It includes more than 600 schools and serves about 415,000 students.