Brookhaven Elementary School's gymnasium had a packed house for the state's first ever exhibition of Dancing Classrooms. The program is a national organization that consists of a 10-week course.
The fifth grade classrooms at Brookhaven participate in classes twice a week. Students do learn how to ballroom dance but the goal of the course is to teach them life skills.
"Essential life skills such as poise and elegance. How to look at someone in the eye when they speak, self respect, the ability to work with people they don't know so well," said Jennifer Christophel, the executive director of Dancing Classrooms for the Alleghenies. "It's really great for working on social barriers and just setting them up for success in life."
The students also learned the history of the dances and presented them to the audience.
"We have integrated the dancing classrooms into various subjects. Social studies, they've done a lot of research and writing with that and obviously the dancing part with physical education," said Davene Burks, Brookhaven Elementary Principal. "But it has been a great opportunity for our children."
Burks also said the children get along with each other and their teachers better since beginning Dancing Classrooms.
"We've seen an improvement in the children's self confidence, in their behavior at recess," said Burks. "We don't have very many problems. Usually you see spring fever and we haven't had a lot of spring fever."
Christophel's job is to bring it to West Virginia and the surrounding states, with an emphasis on Monongalia County. Brookhaven Elementary was the first school in the state to participate in the course.
"Now it's time to let the community know what the program is," said Christophel. "How it influences the children's lives, how it influences their family's lives, and how it affects the community as a whole."
The next step for the Dancing Classrooms Program is to branch out to more classrooms in Monongalia County and the state.