Students Shine at the YMCA Community Schools Initiative Dance-Off

February 28, 2017


Eight schools participated at the Chicago Cultural Center in the sixth annual collaboration with Dancing with Class. "

On February 16, the YMCA of Metro Chicago’s Community Schools Initiative proudly celebrated its ongoing partnership with Dancing with Class at the sixth annual YMCA Community Schools Initiative Dance-Off, held at the Chicago Cultural Center.

Parents, family members, friends and community members cheered on youth from eight YMCA Community Schools. Students from grades three through six thrilled the packed house at the Cultural Center by performing a range of ballroom dances including Merengue, Fox Trot, Bachata, Swing and Paso Doble.

"Student performances at the annual YMCA Dance-Off reached new heights this year, and family engagement was at an all-time high," says Margot Toppen, Executive Director of Dancing with Class. "DwC's collaboration with the YMCA Community Schools team is an ideal example of how a partnership that involves school staff, a strong lead partner, a high-quality program and engaged families can produce outstanding student outcomes."

Congratulations to McKay Elementary, who took home the trophy for Overall Champion. Terry Shanks, a fifth-grade dancer from McKay, sums up his experience by saying, "Ballroom dance was fun and exciting. I really liked doing the Merengue. It was a rewarding experience."

For the first time, YMCA Site Coordinators from each school also presented individual students with their Coaches' Awards. The award and the overall experience means a lot to Mia Corral from Sawyer Elementary: "I was happy that I got the award for Most Improved. My parents were really happy that I was one of the dancers in May I Have This Dance. I can't wait for next year!"

“It is so uplifting to be in such a beautiful setting with people who are all coming together to recognize the amazing accomplishments of our young people,” says Eric Werge, Executive Director of the Y’s Community Schools Initiative. “These are young people who were willing to take a big risk to experience something new and exciting, and they were fearless in demonstrating their love of dance and their respect for one another. That is true leadership, and it is more important than ever to encourage and celebrate that type of leadership in our youth. I’m grateful that our partnership with Dancing with Class gives us the opportunity to do that.”

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RESULTS: YMCA Community Schools Initiative 2017 Dance-Off

Superstar Awards - Recognizing schools for areas of strong performance:

Coaches' Awards:









Learn more:

The YMCA’s Community Schools Initiative partners with Chicago public schools throughout the city and provides daily after school programming for students, as well as parent and family programming at its partner school sites. The Y’s Community Schools Initiative promotes through its programming the Y’s mission anchors of academic readiness, character development, violence prevention and healthy living.

Dancing with Class, the youth division of leading local ballroom dance studio May I Have This Dance, launched its after school dance education program in conjunction with Y in 2011. This 10-week dance curriculum is based on the belief in the power of dance to build and strengthen communities, unite people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and inspire joy, respect and self-reflection in youth, thus impacting school culture and climate in a positive way.