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Fifth-graders compete in ‘Rainbow’ dance

May 1, 2019
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

Fifth-graders from eight Lee County elementary schools have learned respect, to treat each other and act like ladies and gentlemen, social awareness, confidence and self-esteem.

And ballroom dancing has been the vehicle for those lessons, with more than 1,000 students taking part.

On Saturday, the 12 best dancers from those schools met at the Miromar Design Center in Estero to put all those lessons to the test at the Colors of the Rainbow Team Match.

Article Photos

Alexandra Basto and Gesner Odige of Lehigh Elementary do the Tango during the “Colors of the Rainbow” dance competition Saturday at the Miromar Design Center in Estero.


The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools has sponsored this program for 12 years, and the results parents, teachers and administrators have reported to them have been nothing short of amazing.

"It instills pride in these kids. It teaches them to treat each other better and it gives them more self-worth," said Marshall T. Bower, president and executive director of the foundation. "Referrals for bad behavior go down, truancy rates go down, grades go up and they become better citizens."

Rodney Lopez, executive director of Dancing Classrooms, said the program proves to be the top cure for the dreaded childhood disease "Cooties."

"This is a beautiful representation of what the children can do when you set a high expectation," Lopez said. "The kids gain a level of social and self-confidence, and that lays a foundation of leadership, growth and character. The dancing is the tool and the hook. But it's also an important skill."

The fun actually began Friday night at the Dancing Classrooms Block Party at Ford's Garage and Naples Flatbread, where students gave dance demonstrations.

On Saturday, the kids got to strut their stuff on the dance floor as they performed the swing, tango, rumba, fox trot, and merengue.

The first round had the teams perform their specialty dance, while the second had them pick a dance out of a hat. The final round had the team captains dance twice in the event there is a tie.

Lopez, who served as emcee, asked for silence from the crowd as the kids began their dance, before encouraging them to cheer and scream for their team.

Dr. Carrie D. Robinson Littleton Elementary School, the defending champions, joined Tropic Isles and Hancock Creek as the North Fort Myers contingent. Lehigh Acres, which had won for five straight years before Littleton dethroned it, was there along with Bonita Springs, Villas and Franklin Park elementary schools and James Stephens International Academy.

Hancock Creek and Tropic Isles were bronze medalists, while both Littleton and Lehigh won silver. Villas won this year.

Littleton Principal Monica Broughton, an annual attendee, was very happy with her team's performance.

"I thought they did a fabulous job and I'm really proud of them. They have learned to appreciate each other and have become fine young men and ladies," Broughton said. "It has made them more focused to set a goal for themselves. They know what it takes to achieve something."

Jennifer Lusk, assistant principal at Lehigh, also said they were proud of the students' performance, even as they came up a little short.

"We are all winners, the amount of respect the kids have learned throughout this. They are mini-adults and I'm so proud of that," Lusk said. "They have all grown individually."



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