By Maya Pottiger
Northeast High School students, teachers and administrators came together on March 7 for the second annual Dancing with the Stars: Teacher Edition. Ten student-teacher pairs competed in front of a panel of student judges to be crowned the winner.
“These types of events are important to both the school and community because it builds a tight relationship between the community and the school,” said Northeast Principal Jason Williams. “I think that this event, in particular, is significant because it was the study and performance of an art form done by a student and a teacher.”
Nearly 250 people gathered to watch the competition, which raised roughly $1,800, half of which will be donated to Ellie’s Bus with the other half supporting the dance company.
“I wanted to pick an organization that could directly affect our community,” said Meredith Sibley, director of the school’s dance company. “I think [Ellie’s Bus] was something our high school students could relate to, so it mattered to them to give back.”
Ellie’s Bus is an organization that spreads positive mental health education and suicide awareness. Larry and Sherry Leikin, who started Ellie’s Bus after their daughter passed away in 2015, attended the event, and Sherry served as a guest judge.
“Ellie passed away more than three years ago, so to know that her memory and her legacy continues to live on is very meaningful for us,” Larry said. “Obviously we’re honored by anybody who wants to get involved with Ellie’s Bus and what we stand for.”
There are three dance companies at NHS — senior, junior and boys — and they all contributed. In addition to the 10 students who volunteered to be the experts, the other 23 members of the dance company organized the event.
“I really try to make it a student-led type of concert,” Sibley said. “I think it’s important for them because that’s really the idea of the benefit concert is that we’re doing something that impacts our community that really gives back. I really try to have them do the entire thing so they really learn the value of that.”
Next year, Sibley hopes to amp up the competition between the teachers and continue benefiting new organizations.
“The students know it’s a lot of hard work, but I can tell that at the end of it they’re pleased with their hard work, because of the feedback we receive, that the teachers had fun, the community had fun,” Sibley said.