Photo by Johnny Jackson
School board member Jessie Goree (left) dances with students at North Clayton Middle School during their Feb. 14 Red and White Dance.
COLLEGE PARK — School board member Jessie Goree was the first but students quickly followed her lead and piled onto the dance floor.
The North Clayton Middle School student body celebrated Valentine’s Day Thursday with a Red and White Dance. For many of the students, ages 11-14, it was their first social event.
Sixth-grader Elisha Troup was dressed formally in dark pink, sitting unmoved by her nerves.
“This is my first dance,” said Troup, 12.
Her mother, Susan Goodman, also came to the realization as she took photos of Troup.
“This is her first dance,” Goodman said. “I think my baby is growing up.”
Goodman said her first social was an eighth-grade dance and it made her feel more like an adult.
“I think it helps them feel like they’re stepping into another world,” she said. “It helps them feel more liberated.”
Goree said the dance is a rite of passage for the youth.
“It’s an appreciation for traditional culture,” said Goree. “It helps with social skills and etiquette.”
The dance was organized by Elaine Stubbs, president of the school’s Parent Teacher Student Association, and others in the organization.
Stubbs said she wanted to use the dance as an opportunity for students to have fun in a formal banquet-like setting.
Among Thursday’s attendees weremembers of the school’s FIRST LEGO League RoboTigers robotics team recognized for their achievements this year.
Kendall Jordan, 14, was a researcher on the team and Bailey Jordan was a robot programmer.
“It was a great experience,” said Jordan, 14.
The team placed high in both regional and state FIRST LEGO League competition.
Team researchers Victoria Haggwood and Camille Taylor, both 13, said working on the team was a welcome challenge.
“The competitions were kind of hard but I really liked working with the teams,” said Taylor.