"This is an opportunity for the kids to learn through the arts," Challis said. "The dance performance enhances their learning experience in the classroom."
Each grade had their own separate performance theme. Dance topics ranged from one about mathematics and geometry shapes to Russian dances and a performance centered on a tale of miners trapped in South America. Principal Steve Giles even got into the act with a hula hoop dance with the students.
Isabel Emery and Kaitlin Beck were both in the fourth grade group that danced about geometry on Feb. 26 that also inspired them in the classroom.
"I feel like I learned a lot about geometry just by dancing," 10-year-old Isabel said. Kaitlin said she felt inspired that she could learn the dance and understand more about the subject of geometry.
Makaylie Wood performed a traditional Russian dance with the third grade. "It was fun to learn how the Russian people dance and speak different," 8-year-old Makaylie said.
Challis said that it was a lot of work and practice to get the more than 500 kids ready for the 17 different dances.
"A lot of the students were nervous about the performance, but I told them that they would be ready," Challis said. "After their first performance, they even surpassed my expectations. Students were feeding off the big cheers and applause from the crowd and forgot all about their nerves."
Learning the dances brought classes together, Challis said, giving the spotlight equally to the shyer, quieter kids as to the outgoing ones. In her third year at the school, Challis believes that learning dance can help kids grow emotionally.
"We are building confident kids and teaching them creativity and to be themselves," Challis said. "Their math and reading scores are going up because of their confidence."
Challis was thankful for the support of the principal and fellow teachers and all the hard work the students put in.
"The purpose of the program is to help the students learn and have fun and be happy doing it," Challis said. "Correlating school work into a fun dance helped the kids remember certain core concepts."