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For teens who want to learn how to dance, but either can’t afford classes or don’t have the time after school, the dance program at San Benito High School offers an option to explore creativity while earning academic credit.

San Benito High School dance teacher Heather Nichols, who has taught at the school for eight years and has also taught jazz at West Coast Music & Dance FX, said, “I chose to be a dance teacher at San Benito High School because the opportunity combines two of my lifelong passions: helping and educating youth and dancing.” 

Asked how she believed dance is related to academics in school, Nichols replied, “Dance is a subject that encompasses all visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning modalities. Dance history and theory is also taught through written and verbal modalities. For these reasons, dance should be respected as an academic subject as students are creating a product of their learning every semester.” 

Nichols said that dance supports the overall education of the students “by assisting them in improving their memory, expanding their creativity, and increasing their self confidence. It is extremely important that students are given an opportunity to express themselves. Dance is an artistic form of self-expression that many students connect with. It also has many health benefits physically, mentally, and socially.”

Fifteen-year-old freshman Riley Dias, who is in Nichols’ Dance A class, said she signed up for the class because “I have always liked dance, I just didn’t know how or where I could go, and found out the school had a dance program, so I decided I would join.” Dias said dance has helped her by requiring her to memorize routines and it allows her to pick up on certain parts of dances. Students in dance, Dias said, are “always learning something new; you also have assignments just like any other classes.”

Another Dance A student, 14-year-old freshman Kimberly Marquez, said she joined the dance program “because I saw one of their dance presentations in middle school and I thought it would be cool to learn how to do that.” She said that the academic aspects of dance have “helped greatly by challenging me further to go ahead of my limits. In dance, as in any other class, we learn to be patient, listen, and the path to succeed.”

So, while dance is a fun and energetic activity at San Benito High School, it also has an academic focus.