• MacArthur students form dance team

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  • Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
    Unified School District 207 offers several different extracurricular activities and sports for older students to try, including football, basketball, cheerleading, wrestling and track. These opportunities promote teamwork, discipline, active lifestyles and health and fitness to the students, and now students at MacArthur Elementary School are moving their bodies with the creation of a dance team — the Mustang Kickers for fifth- and sixth-graders.
    The Mustang Kickers made their debut at the USD 207 board meeting Nov. 29 in the MacArthur gym.
    “I was very impressed with the performance of the students,” said Keith Mispagel, superintendent of schools. “It was most exciting to see the smiles on their faces and that they were having fun, too.
    “Music and dance are clear opportunities to express yourself through movement and song,” he said. “Dancing in front of a group is difficult, especially for elementary grade students. That level of performance can foster leadership skills and public speaking confidence.”
    The idea for the dance team began at the last assembly of the 2017-18 schoolyear, and Megan Adams, MacArthur sixth-grade teacher, was ready to take the reins.
    “I said, ‘Oh, I taught a dance team of high-schoolers last year, I’ll just do that (routine),’” Adams said. “So, we started it at the assembly and the dancers were like, ‘We want to learn it.’
    “So, then we ended up meeting during recess and then we ended up having a group of eight really dedicated, hardworking dancers who wanted to do more,” she said. “So, now this year it is more organized.”
    Every Thursday, 25 students meet for one hour after school to rehearse. At their practice Dec. 6, they were rehearsing for their performance Dec. 18 at the school sing-along. The routine is a hip-hop salsa dance to Meghan Trainor’s “Better When I’m Dancin.”
    “(Dancing) builds confidence and it allows them to have a voice through movement,” Adams said.
    Adams started dancing when she was 4 years old and started teaching dance in a studio when she was 16. In high school, she was on a competitive dance team and in community college was on two pre-professional dance teams at the same time. She also danced on the Minnesota State University Moorhead dance team before teaching competitive dance for 10 years in Arizona.
    “Dancing has always been a part of my life,” Adams said. “(We’re) just getting together, celebrating dance and loving what we do.
    “I know that this school, they want dance and I feel like there was really nothing before now,” she said. “I want to be able to share what I love with students and hopefully new students can fall in love with the joy of dancing and expressing themselves in a different way. Hopefully, their self-esteem builds so that they can do something that they never thought they could do and also be proud of themselves.”
    Page 2 of 2 - MacArthur fifth-grader Rhiana Fernandez, who has been dancing since she was 3, said she was having fun.
    “You get to express yourself in a special way and it is really fun to do it,” Fernandez said. “Then, there is a bunch of people that also do dance here and so to do it with your family and friends is fun, too.”
    MacArthur sixth-grader Luke Stoffle said he liked having his homeroom teacher also be his dance teacher.
    The Mustang Kickers is Stoffle’s first experience with organized dance.
    “A lot of my friends had joined it and I thought maybe it was something new to try,” Stoffle said. “I like to dance because it is fun and it gets all of my energy out and is just a ton of fun.
    “It really doesn’t waste your time because there are goals in it,” he said. “You can achieve those goals and you can create more friends.”
    MacArthur fifth-grader Jessiel Rosario has been dancing since he was 8. Originally from Puerto Rico, the salsa was the first dance he learned.
    “That is my culture,” he said. “We always dance the whole time. I love dancing.”
    Rosario dances the salsa several times throughout the performance and said he has enjoyed teaching his classmates.
    “When my friends see me practice my moves, that is like I’m their teacher and they’re my students,” he said. “They try their best and they’re doing pretty good.”
    Along with the Dec. 18 performance, the Mustang Kickers will also have a mini recital featuring more dances on May 16, 2019.
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