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Dancing with the devils

It all started with a silly little dance competition against her peers. She won, and the legacy of her victory changed the last day before Christmas break for all English students at South.

Years ago, English teacher Sandra McCue was paired with dance instructor Jason to learn and perform a dance in South’s take on ‘Dancing with the Stars’. After winning the competition, the two wanted to be able to share this unique learning experience with all South students. Today, ballroom dancing lessons are an annual tradition on the day before the holiday break.

“(Dance) is something really different and not everyone’s super comfortable with it,” McCue said. “I hope that once people get here and try it, they’ll have fun and enjoy themselves.”

Despite their apparent differences, McCue said the language arts and performing arts have much in common when it comes to verbal and nonverbal signaling.

“Communication is huge in dance,” McCue said. “There’s a lot of nonverbal communication in dance as well as verbal and figuring out between you and your partner what’s working and what’s not going well. (Communication) is important to what we’re focusing on in English.”

With ballroom dancing being so versatile, having an open mind is crucial to coming out of the class with a positive experience according to McCue.

“If you’ve never done this before, don’t go into it with a lot of expectations and have a positive attitude,” McCue said. “It’s helpful to think ‘I don’t know this yet, but this is something I’m here to learn’ so you don’t have a grumpy attitude about it.”

Taking McCue’s advice, Miles Meldrum ’26 said he came into the dance with an open mind, allowing the experience to further bond him with his classmates despite initial struggles.

“Learning the dance was a bit rough, but it was ok because I learned from my partner,” Meldrum said. “We got through it together.”

While some, like Meldrum, get new friends out of dance, others receive physical or mental stimulation from new experiences according to dance teacher Jamie Palmer.

“A really big thing I focus on, being an athlete in the past, is having really good body awareness and being more comfortable in my own body,” Palmer said. “That’s what dance does for me.”

A key component of dance, Palmer said she finds flexibility to be essential when adapting what she teaches to the students’ skill level.

“Skillswise, everyone’s different,” Palmer said. “We switch it up a lot; we do a lot of different things. Some things work, some things don’t. We adjust for the next time and it’s fun for us to try a lot of different things.”

In her over seven years of doing the annual ballroom dance event, Palmer said her favorite part of the event is watching students’ attitudes change over the course of the hour.

“It’s really fun for me personally to see the people who aren’t excited about it initially turn happy about it when they leave,” Palmer said. “My favorite part is seeing that surprise in people when they realize, ‘Oh, I don’t actually hate this.’”

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About the Contributors
Elizabeth Peberdy '24
Elizabeth Peberdy '24, Page Editor
Elizabeth Peberdy ’24 is a full-time athlete and journalist, committing her days to rowing, running and page editing for the Tower. Building countless friendships through each activity, she enjoys being involved in her community. That's why this year on Tower, she is most excited about meeting all the new staffers and working with new people. Elizabeth is a second year page editor, a job she loves because she gets to “do my weekly designing of pages, but I’ve also had the ability to write stories and do social media at the same time.” She believes this job gives her “a really good balance of everything,” including participating in multiple tower activities, such as It’s annual holiday party. It’s clear that Elizabeth’s passion for journalism drives her to success inside and outside of the classroom, and she is a valuable member of the Tower community.
Paul Kaminski '24
Paul Kaminski '24, Supervising Copy Editor
In a busy and action-packed life with swimming, cross country, track, quiz bowl and DECA, Supervising Copy Editor Paul Kaminski ’24 still finds time to enjoy the little things in life.“I’m a big fan of salsa music, I feel like it includes a lot of rhythmic variation,” Kaminski said. “I think it’s a very nice genre—especially when you can understand Spanish—and I feel it really helped me to get a good score on the AP Spanish test.”Listening to salsa music isn’t something new for Kaminski.“The first time I heard it I was sitting in a little gray and black speckled computer chair,” Kaminski said. “ My dad put on the music video for a song by a singer called Celia Cruz, and I really enjoyed it. I was spinning around in my chair like a maniac.”For Kaminski, the Tower is a great way for him to express his ideas that he wouldn’t normally be able to.“You can experiment with photography, opinion writing, graphic design, and film criticism all in the same class,” Kaminski said.

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