For the past decade, Dancing Classrooms has been a fixture in the Lee County public schools, and never has it been more apparent than in the North Fort Myers schools.
This year, three North schools will be among the seven elementary schools in Lee County which will compete in a ballroom dance competition at the Miromar Design Center, at 10800 Corkscrew Road in Estero, sponsored by the Lee County Foundation of Public Schools and Miromar Outlets, on Saturday at 4 p.m.
The event, known as the Colors of the Rainbow Team Match, is the culminating event of The Foundation's Dancing Classrooms program, where participating schools have received 10 weeks of training from certified dance instructors and performed in the Miromar Outlets parking lot during the course of their training.
From there, six pairs of students from each school are selected to compete in the Team Match, which in recent years has been dominated by Lehigh Elementary.
Dr. Carrie D. Robinson Littleton, Hancock Creek and Tropic Isles will be the North Fort Myers schools competing. Franklin Park, James Stephens International Academy, Lehigh, and Bonita Springs elementary schools are the others.
Dancing Classrooms is more than just a dance class. The national program uses ballroom dancing as a vehicle to build social awareness, confidence, self-esteem and proper decorum through the practice of dance, which helps build these children to become "proper ladies and gentlemen."
"Dancing Classrooms has a huge impact on the students who participate on many levels," said Marshall T. Bower, president and CEO of The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools in an e-mail. "The obvious benefit is learning a skill they can use the rest of their lives, ballroom dancing. More importantly, students gain self-confidence and learn how to treat others with dignity and respect."
The Colors of the Rainbow Team Match provides an opportunity for participating students to compete in various ballroom dance routines such as the tango, waltz and fox trot.
The final competition is open to the public at no cost.
Dancing Classrooms was brought to The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools in 2008 by Margaret Antonier, Founder and CEO of Miromar Development.
Since its inception, the program has more than doubled as it grew from five schools reaching 325 students in its first year, to eight schools reaching more than 800 students this school year.