First of all was Dancesport. As preparation for Graduation from Intermediate school, all Year 8s had to take a week of dancing classes. They were rather nervous before it began, thinking they'd have to ask people of the opposite gender out and that it would be awkward and such. The teachers, however, have been doing this for years and it is arranged in a way to make things easy for the poor young tweens and teens. There were some individual dances, such as Grease Lightening, and some partner dances such as the ChaCha. However, students did not have set partners, there was simply a moment of chaos as boys ran to the other side of the hall to find a girl to dance with. And for the lessons, we borrowed girls from other classes so there would be even numbers.
The dance instructor, flamboyant in gesture if not in dress, also did a lot to put the kids at ease. He was entertaining and energetic and had a great rapport with the kids. A few of them got teased mercilessly when they didn't pay attention to the instructions, but he forgave them easily as well. And by the time Graduation rolled around, he had gotten all the students able, more or less, to do some quite complicated moves.
Graduation was a fun affair. All the students, used to wearing uniforms to school, came in fancy dress. Some girls got their hair and make-up professionally done. (One girl even left school early for a Doctor's Appointment.' Perhaps I'm being unfair in my suspicions, but I do rather think she had an appointment of a more beautifying nature.)
It was really fun for me to see my students express themselves through their clothing. My best friend, Bethany, is a fashion design student and has given me quite an appreciation for both the beauty of clothing in itself and as an expression of self.
First, student from different classes congregated in various rooms near the Hall. We were supposed to keep them quiet, as noise echoed down the hallways and disturbed the classes crossing the stage. This was virtually impossible given the level of nerves and excitement present in the student body. After numerous attempts to get student to whisper, which had results for all of three seconds, the other teacher present and I decided a game of Telephone was the answer to our problems. We got both our classes in alphabetical order and made a circle, and started whispering weird phrases, such as 11 pink monkeys dance cheerfully on my bed, in students ears. And of course it came at the other and as something completely completely different.
Soon, I was leading my class down the hallway to the stage, which they walked across, received their certificate and shook the principal's hand, then walked off again. Afterward, we had pizza in our classroom and it was even more difficult to keep them quiet as the last few classes walked. In fact, it proved impossible and I gave up and stole some pizza.
Then the dancing started.
There were fewer girls than boys (a first in my experience of dancing) so I asked a few boys to dance so they wouldn't feel left out. There was one boy in particular that I remember. He was hanging out on the sidelines just as a dance was starting and I asked him if he wanted to dance. 'That's ok,' he replied. 'I had a partner but she left me to dance with someone else. I'll just wait this one out.' 'Aww, c'mon!' I insisted. 'It'll be fun! I love dancing.' He agreed to dance with me and we ended up doing the rock'n'roll dance and the merengue together. I had a great time and within a few seconds he was smiling too. A week or so later, on the last day of school, he came up to give me a hug goodbye and specifically thanked me for dancing with him. It can be hard being left on the dance floor and the brave, nonchalant face was, as I had suspected, just a mask.
After all the 'formal' dances were finished, we just put on some music (and a disco ball) and let the kids enjoy themselves. And I have to say, there were some really good dancers out there! They'd put me to shame, anyway, not that that's saying much. The parents, who been told to leave after the ceremony, came back around nine and looked very happy and proud to see their children completing this coming of age ceremony and looking so grown up.
There was one hiccup. Students had been told not to bring their phones oR purses, but the girl who left for the doctor's appointment had missed those instructions. She asked me to hold on to her phone, which I agreed to do. Never again! The problem was that afterwards, I had no way of reaching her since I had her phone. Then her mother called about 5 times, so I finally picked up and explained the situation. I asked her to come find me and I'd give her her daughter's phone, but she didn't know any of the landmarks of the school. She kept telling me she was flashing her lights and I should see if I could find her, but 300 some students and their parents were leaving the school and it was utter chaos. She did finally come find me, and I found her daughter, but it was a stressful end to such a fantastic night.