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Eighth-grade Howitt Middle School students enjoyed a series of virtual and in-person dance lessons during World Language Week in March. As a recipient of the 2022 Peace Grant, Ms. Patty Caracappa worked with a Long Island dance company to organize the lesson series.

Beyond learning the steps to each dance, students learned the cultural background and history of each dance and more about the region. History, geography, cultural connections, and etymology were all blended into the lessons. The new ‘Multipurpose Room’ at Howitt was a great space for students to spread out and learn the steps. Many thanks to Ms. Caracappa and Dance Classrooms of Long Island for developing such an interactive learning experience for our students.

In 2022, Ms. Caracappa applied for and was awarded the PEACE Project grant for educators. Funded by Assistance in Art Education and the US Department of Education, recipients engage in a variety of professional learning activities throughout the year to learn more about integrating arts education in meaningful ways. They are encouraged to form educational partnerships for the benefit of students.

Ms. Caracappa chose to bring dance lessons to the classroom to create an opportunity for students to build upon relationships, trust, and respect. Students needed to work together in pairs, groups, and units in order to learn the complex dance steps. At the end of each class, three students were chosen by their peers as students who best demonstrated the skills of trusting, supporting, and guiding one another. Students recognized the importance of positive and supportive social interactions as the best way to build a safe and enjoyable community.

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