Saturday, December 13, 2008

“Poison Ivy” at Forest Park Academy

“At night when you’re sleeping poison ivy comes a creeping around.” No, there were no students twitchin’ and itchin’ in Forest Park Academy’s gym Friday but 14 students danced to tunes like the song “Poison Ivy” originally recorded by The Coasters in 1959.

The Forest Park Academy gym is where Donna Dilley teaches what started out as a “ballroom dance” class but evolved into other dances like the cha-cha and some good ol‘ rock and role moves. In addition to dance classes, Dilley conducts etiquette training programs for young people through the National League of Junior Cotillions. These programs help High School students build self-esteem, confidence and character.

“Dr. Bishop wanted to build social capital in all activities,” said Principal Eric Anderson. Anderson admitted that his own experience failing the traditional waltz test at a wedding sold him on the need for the dance class.

The same students have taken the classes since they started in November. Eighteen students or nine couples in total. “If they do their work all week then they can go to dance class,” said Anderson.

The excitement during the 2:00 to 3:30 PM Friday afternoon dance class was proof of their motivation to “do the work.” The students’ next challenge could even be a “Dance with the Stars” competition.
This Friday was the Academy’s “highest attendance day ever,” said Principal Anderson. He admitted that the first year of Forest Park Academy has been a challenge. Not all students have stuck it out but as Anderson said to students on orientation day, “staff is not babysitters … if you don’t want to be here then this is not the school for you.”
Anderson said staff is “learning [the program] as they go.” The Outreach Department goes to students’ homes while the Fulfillment Department holds student planning sessions where all career paths are open to them.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Education, Roanoke City Public Schools

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