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Monroeville

Annual ball teaches Gateway students respect, etiquette

Dillon Carr
| Friday, Jan. 18, 2019, 10:21 a.m.

A group of Moss Side middle schoolers brought the ballroom to the Jan. 15 Gateway School Board meeting.

Sixth grade students performed snippets of winning routines from their school’s annual ball for members.

Among the pairs of students – donning suits and dresses – who performed were Darious Farrar and Alayja Johnson, Koren Davis and Adrienne Woods, Elijah Lehman and Paige Kessler, and Eric Bell and Jerlyn Domingo. Jaleel Williams danced with Heather Bungard, the district’s director of pupil services.

The annual Sixth Grade Dinner and Dance Event, held this year on Dec. 14, is the culmination of a six-week dance class during which students learn more than just moves. Teachers incorporate lessons on respect and etiquette in addition to dance.

Susan Payne, a physical education teacher at Moss Side Middle, teaches the school’s sixth grade students the steps along with Luanne O’Brien of Integral Ballroom, a Murrysville-based business. Lessons occur during the students’ weekly gym class.

The formal dining etiquette portion of the course is taught by Nicole Dunsmore, Moss Side’s sixth grade health teacher.

The Gateway school board meeting room was packed with parents and others who wanted to watch the top finishers perform 30-second clips of their dances. School board members smiled as they watched students do their elegant routines.

School board member Brian Goppman, who attended the ball, was warmed by the performances.

“It’s so wonderful to see that everyone is getting along. I think that’s been our goal since day one, to have that kind of atmosphere,” Goppman said.

During the ball, the middle school’s cafeteria is transformed into a formal dining area, with linens draped over the tables and dimmed lights. Payne said some high school students in the orchestra join to play music. Students compete in rounds and are eliminated just like in a formal dance competition.

The skills students learn can be applied outside the ballroom, Payne said.

“Dance is the foundation of all movement,” she said. “It teaches us to control muscle groups at different times. And the students can then take all the skills learned and transfer them into other sports.”

Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, dcarr@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dillonswriting.

Elijah Lehman and Paige Kessler perform their winning Rumba dance in front of the Gateway Board of School Directors on Jan. 15, 2019.
Elijah Lehman and Paige Kessler perform their winning Rumba dance in front of the Gateway Board of School Directors on Jan. 15, 2019.
The group of sixth graders who placed first, second and third place during the annual Sixth Grade Dinner and Dance Event pose for a group shot Jan. 15, 2019.
Dillon Carr | Tribune-Review
The group of sixth graders who placed first, second and third place during the annual Sixth Grade Dinner and Dance Event pose for a group shot Jan. 15, 2019.
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