It’s back to school time. Students, parents, and teachers have most likely settled into a routine as the second week kicks into gear.
Teachers at Ponoka Elementary School (PES) welcomed students with a week of hip hop dancing as part of their Hip Hop Back 2 Learning. This is the third year the school has incorporated a theme for students, explained assistant principal Nicole Rawlinson.
Paid for with funds from recycled containers, the school hired a dancer from SoundKreation in Calgary to teach students dance moves as part of a modified artist in residence program. For Rawlinson the goal is to get students ready to study.
“How do we get kids into learning and develop relationships with peers?” Rawlinson asked.
The goal is to give students a strong initial impact to set the stage for later. “Day 1 is to send them home, excited about learning.”
The feedback she has received from parents has been positive; there have been several emails with parents grateful to teachers for making the first day a positive one.
Rawlinson made a point of checking in with students during the week and the one word she heard the most is, “awesome.”
“It’s about creating that atmosphere,” she stated.
Benjamin Perrin was with students all week and he was there to introduce kids to a few hip hop moves. For hip hop lovers the terms “locking and popping” are familiar but for most kids it was new territory. Perrin also incorporated some beatboxing for students.
“If there wasn’t music, you can create your own,” explained Perrin.
The company uses current hits as well as music from as far back as the ’70s such as funk from George Clinton and soul from James Brown.
Perrin and Matt Ball were two dancers teaching students. Each came into hip hop through different avenues; Perrin through singing and Ball through dance and gymnastics.
Both have been teaching for approximately 10 years. For Perrin his greatest reward is to see shy First grade student kids step out and enjoy the experience. “It’s nice to see that transition and confidence built.”
Students attended dance sessions all week and some could be seen practicing their moves after leaving a class.
Since PES has two buildings, Rawlinson also feels these themes help unify the school for the year.