By Mario Tarradell, Public Relations & Marketing Manager
The sweet scent wafted through the cafeteria. It was that heady aroma of frosted cookies, Hawaiian Punch and childhood adrenalin. The backdrop: Red, lots of red, and a sea of hearts.
The third annual Valentine’s Day Dance at George Washington Carver Learning Center cranked into drive Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016. The dance, part of Big Thought’s Thriving Minds After School program at Carver, attracted 315 attendees, including kids from pre-kindergarten to 5th grade, parents, teachers, volunteers and the thumping beats of DJ Flip.
For two hours, late afternoon to early evening, kids got to shed their uniforms and don their Sunday best. Dresses, hair bows, bow ties, vests, lacquered shoes, stockings and pin-striped slacks gave the children a new look, a new attitude and a chance to let loose with classmates.
“It builds up their social skills, their self-esteem,” says Maria Elena Ochoa, Community Liaison at George Washington Carver Learning Center. “They came in their party dress. They feel special, like a Cinderella story. The parents are proud of their children. This is where they get to show their best. When they come in, it’s magical.”
This being a Valentine’s Day Dance meant you needed a Royal Court. There was a duke and duchess for 3rd grade, a prince and princess for 4th grade, and a king and queen for 5th grade. Teachers nominated one male and one female student each based on attendance (5 absences or less), good character, grades (C average or higher in all classes), and positive behavior.
Each nominated student was then asked to write down three reasons why fellow students should vote for him or her at the dance. Teachers manned the voting booth, a colorful candy hearts themed station that drew a steady stream of kids casting ballots. The votes were tallied and it was time for the winners.
All members of the George Washington Carver Learning Center’s Carver’s Royal Family received certificates of distinction. The winners were: Duke Jordan Smith and Duchess Kyndall Carroll; Prince Kenyon Valentine and Princess Hailey Lewis; King Stephen Lampkins and Queen Tanija Jones.
The crowd roared during the crowning. There was major excitement in the room especially since the dance contests had just stirred all of the kids into a dancing frenzy.
Nothing gets kids going like dancing, agrees Brooke Scott. Her children, Kayla Scott, 7, and Travis Ridge, 10, were at the dance. They are Thriving Minds kids who have been active for three years. Kayla takes dance classes while Travis goes for basketball. Scott says that both teach valuable teamwork.
But about the dance, Scott had nothing but praise: “The dance is pretty cool,” she says. “All the kids like coming. Kids like to dance, so they love it.”
Big Thought and Thriving Minds thanks local sponsors Mercy Street, Serve West Dallas, ARK, Readers 2 Leaders, Park Cities Presbyterian Church, Southern Methodist University, Capital Bank, Girls Scouts of North Texas, Jargon Group, Boys Scouts of America, Junior Players, Watermark Church, Lakewest Family YMCA, and West Dallas Community Centers for their generous support.