Sisters Middle School PE students learned to swing dance this year.

Sisters Middle School PE students learned to swing dance this year.

Sisters Middle School seventh and eighth graders had the chance to learn to dance in their P.E. classes this year.

Teachers Wes Estvold and Julie Patton incorporated a two-week dance unit into the P.E. program. The students were taught the country freestyle swing and the waltz.

To overcome any initial hesitation and feelings of embarrassment, Estvold and Patton began the unit by telling students that most people feel awkward at first.

“Our motto is ‘Fake it till you make it,'” said Patton. “We discuss not only how they talk to their partner or don’t, but also about body language. We have kids in a big square and rotate partners every minute or so. The quick rotations and the fact that they don’t pick their partner help take the pressure off.”

Although hesitant at first, according to Patton, most kids end up enjoying the unit.

“I had students tell me that it made them feel closer to their classmates because they had to connect with so many people during dance, people they wouldn’t normally hang out with or talk to,” explained Patton. “Many kids who didn’t want to do the unit at first said they really liked it and that it was fun.”

The unit concluded with a dance finale – students dressed up and filled out dance cards to record the names of their partners. The unit’s end coincided with the school dance. According to Patton, some students put their new skills to use and did the swing dance at the Gig.

“I think it opened up the door to dancing with someone else even if it wasn’t swing dancing,” said Patton.