|Hitting New Notes||3/28/2023 7:00:00 AM|| Standing ovations and emotions filled the dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Elliott N. Duchon Concert Hall at Rubidoux High School on March 10th. Rubidoux’s choir, band, and symphony orchestra performed for a packed audience at the event.
After always having to perform in their school gymnasium or other theaters, students debuted their brand-new space with stellar performances. They proved that their talent needed this space on their campus to efficiently showcase their music.
The new concert hall opened its doors a fter nearly two years of construction . Designed for band, choir, and orchestra to learn and perform in, the 14,000-square-foot building includes a large concert hall for 300 guests, music classrooms, and an outdoor amphitheater.
The venue is dedicated to Elliott N. Duchon, former Jurupa Unified School District superintendent of seventeen years, whose passion for music led to the expansion of music programs in JUSD schools. Under his leadership, Pacific Avenue Academy of Music was established and instrumental strings programs were implemented there, as well as at Mission Middle School and Rubidoux High School. These music projects led to Mr. Duchon’s vision for Rubidoux to have a concert hall venue.
Evelyn Salazar and Natalie Cervantes, senior performing arts students, stood alongside Mr. Duchon as they cut the ribbon and welcomed everyone into the building. “It felt like such an honor that I was able to open the place up for everyone,” said Evelyn, a chamber choir senior, who has seen the choir program grow throughout her time at RHS and is excited for future classes to have this elevated facility at their disposal.
Mr. Duchon’s vision for this venue is for students to learn in this environment to prepare them for a future in music. For Annalyse Jimenez, a sophomore, this is exhilarating for her bright goals of pursuing music after graduation, “What excites me the most is the amount of performance opportunities we’ll get,” she said.
As a cello player in the orchestra and a marimba player in the band, Annalyse said that being able to perform in a professional venue will equip her for her big dreams, “It sounds so beautiful… it’s kind of unbelievable. I’m still kind of processing that [the concert hall is] here,” said Annalyse about the breathtaking features of the hall.
The grand concert hall is a huge milestone for students pursuing a future in music. “For many generations to come, the district will be a destination for creativity and music,” said Dr. Trenton Hansen, JUSD Superintendent, during his speech at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
JUSD continues to build facilities and opportunities that allow students to grow. As Kevin Corridan, RHS principal, stated, students will be encouraged to attend school, make connections in the community, and improve academically in their own spaces.
Sarah Choi, orchestra and band director, dedicated Rubidoux’s new symphony orchestra's first performance to Mr. Duchon. “Thank you, Mr. Duchon, for believing in Rubidoux High School, and for believing in all of us,” she said, “[and] for your tireless devotion in ensuring that our students get exactly what they deserve.”
|Ace the Space||3/28/2023 7:00:00 AM|| Classroom experience not only helps teachers hone their lesson plans but also their decorating skills. Over time, teachers learn what design elements best support student learning and social-emotional well-being.
Now in her 31st year of teaching, Rainbow Kelly’s fourth-grade classroom at Indian Hills Elementary is difficult to beat. In addition to festive decorations to honor the holidays and showcases of student art, Mrs. Kelly’s design choices are curriculum-centered. In fourth grade, students study California history, so the four walls of the classroom represent regions of California the mountains, the central valley, the coast, and the desert.
Among those themed decorations are Mrs. Kelly’s bulletin boards, which are both educational and interactive. Mrs. Kelly has boards devoted to Sudoku, idioms, and fractions. Each board asks for student participation, providing fourth-graders with more opportunities to learn after they have finished their desk work. “When they’re done with their must-dos and lessons, they can get up out of their seat and have a little fun,” shared Mrs. Kelly. “But it’s also secret learning.”
The interactive boards are very popular with students. Dustin Parsons would not say that he loves math, but his favorite part of the classroom is the Sudoku board. Alexis Walters appreciates that if she finishes her work early, she has options for how to occupy her time. “I think having that opportunity to get up and do something active…makes it a nicer place to be,” said Mrs. Kelly.
Mrs. Kelly also offers flexible seating opportunities. This year, the area at the front of the classroom is campfire-themed. Two camping chairs, a small table, and an inflatable “campfire” make up the space. Each helper of the day is given a flexible seating pass, and most students wait until a friend also has one so they can share the space.
Separate classroom spaces can not only help students feel special but also give them a place to process their emotions on a difficult day. In Vannessa Herrera’s second-grade classroom at Del Sol Academy, her “chill corner” is vital to daily learning. The corner is a small couch with pillows and blankets, tucked away from the rest of the classroom to offer privacy.
"The chill corner prepares students to get back into the classroom to learn because they can sort their thoughts…then focus on the educational material,” said Mrs. Herrera. “If they’re consumed [by negative] thoughts...they’re no longer learning and they’re tuning you out.”
Mrs. Herrera’s chill corner is just one of many social-emotional elements of her classroom. Positive quotes adorn the walls. Abundant greenery provides a calming presence. Tables are arranged in a rainbow shape to support large and small group work. But the element most loved by Mrs. Herrera and her students is the set of twinkling lights around the whiteboard, which Mrs. Herrera turns on whenever she dims the lights for videos.
After spending so much time preparing her classroom, it is gratifying for Mrs. Herrera to see her students thrive in the space. Though a well-decorated classroom may seem inconsequential compared to lessons in math and reading, both Mrs. Herrera and Mrs. Kelly believe their classroom environments support their students educationally as well as emotionally. “I feel like it helps them be able to have that buy-in, that this is a place for [them],” said Mrs. Kelly of her design choices. “This is their space for their learning.”
|Art is Everywhere||3/28/2023 7:00:00 AM|| Middle school can be a turbulent period of transition for many students. As the level of academic rigor increases, so does the need for moments of peace. For students enrolled in Jurupa Middle’s art classes, the act of creating art is soothing. “I feel very safe. I feel very calm,” shared Bella Acosta, seventh grade. “Art is something I do when I’m upset or nervous and it helps me feel better.”
Laila Giampietro, art teacher, facilitates this sense of calm by making self-reflection and quiet, independent work staples of the curriculum. “On Mondays, we always start with character development where we talk about a quote or they do some kind of self-reflection, which is to help them be happier in life and also help us get along and have a sense of unity in our class,” she said.
Project work occurs daily and is self-driven. Ms. Giampietro encourages exploration as students employ the elements of art. “It is a big contrast from all of their academic courses,” she said. “They get to choose how…to use the things that we’ve learned. I think that’s very empowering.”
The ability to self-guide makes it easier for students to pursue their individual passions. While Criss Alvarez enjoys making realistic art because he can compare it to things in the real world, Jonathan Perez prefers the patterns and depths of illusion art. Both seventh graders are able to develop their techniques by creating art they love. “I think that art provides…an opportunity to express yourself, to find your strengths, [and] make yourself proud,” shared Ms. Giampietro.
Each art student has a sketchbook to practice techniques such as shading, blending, depth, and perspective. Much of the focus is on drawing, though students also paint with watercolors, practice Sharpie art, and experiment with digital art. “I’ve learned how to do a lot of things I didn’t know how to do before,” said Bella.
Friday classes begin with an activity in which students discuss a famous piece of art, identifying important elements and principles that have been applied. Ms. Giampietro incorporates analysis into her class because she believes there is value in students understanding that professional art takes more than passion, but also skill. Recognizing that art is purposeful may result in a greater appreciation for it.
Studying art also helps students recognize it outside the classroom and understand how essential it is to daily life. Criss, who hopes to be an engineer when he is older, sees art in blueprints and architecture. Classmate Bella notices these things, too. “Art is something you see every day in almost everything and it’s a big part of making things,” said Bella. “Designs of things are art itself. Art is everywhere.”
Like many of her students, Ms. Giampietro began practicing art at a young age. Because of her own closeness to the subject, she is thrilled to help her students grow into confident, dedicated artists who appreciate beauty and its importance to the world. “I hope that they're proud of themselves more than anything,” she said. “That they get an emotional connection to [art] that they probably didn't have at the onset.” |
|Bookmarked with Love||2/28/2023 8:00:00 AM|| Families at Pedley and Troth Street Elementary School are taking a strong initiative in their children’s education by joining in the fun of reading. The schools’ principals welcome parents to participate in their family literacy programs to promote early literacy.
“The idea was to allow parents to read with their children at home… cultivate that love for reading, and make memories together,” stated Nancy Galvez, Pedley Elementary principal. Resembling a book club, she assigns a book for families to enjoy together at home and discuss in their bi-weekly meetings at school. Ms. Galvez includes Spanish-speaking families by facilitating her literacy program in both English and Spanish. For their first book, families read Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan, which resonated with families. Focused on the effects of immigration, the book sparked relevant conversations within the group. Both students and parents discussed their thoughts with their peers and completed activities related to the story. Teresita Amador, a program participant at Pedley, believes she is setting a positive example for her young children by attending their school activities. Not only are her children excited for school but to read with her as well. “I was surprised that they were excited over [reading]... they get to the point where they want to keep reading.”
Parents are nourishing their children’s reading comprehension and social skills while also bonding. Gloria Elias stated the program permits her to sit down and give her undivided attention to her first-grade daughter, Emily. Gloria said that attending these extracurricular activities with Emily is teaching her that she will always have the resources from school and the support from her mother to succeed. “Not only right now because she’s young but also as she’s growing so she stays involved,” she said about their continuous participation in school activities. Staying engaged in their children’s school activities allows parents to see how their students are progressing academically. Leni Arias, Troth Street Elementary parent, gets a first-hand look into her child’s experience at school. “I think it's a good way… as a parent to see how well your child interacts in school,” she said. After a hiatus due to the pandemic, the family literacy program at Troth Street is back for parents and children to enjoy. To encourage parent involvement in schools, Principal Jacqueline Stump brought the program back. Transitional kindergarten and kindergarten parents are invited every month to their child’s classroom to read and complete fun activities together.
Ms. Stump’s goal is to grow the bond between parents, the community, and the school by encouraging parents to “read to their child and look at the importance of reading and the value that it has.” Students appreciate the time they get to spend with their parents at school, which is made clear by the bright and smiling faces welcoming parents into the classroom.
The sentiment is mutual for Diana Islas, a parent, who enjoys the time she gets with her daughter at school. Participating in the program, she sees how impactful it is for children to read with their parents. “It motivates them... it encourages her to reach out for more information on what she can gather,” she said. |
|Artists at Work||2/28/2023 8:00:00 AM|| With the creative freedom to build, students interested in art or construction have found a common interest in Patriot High School’s manufacturing classes and the Product Innovation and Design pathway.
Manufacturing teacher Charlotte Jones equips students with the necessary skills to “learn everything that they need to know to make stuff” with a wide range of technology and materials. Students get to design and bring their creations to life as long as they follow the themes of their assignment. Students must use the skills of a graphic designer and a construction worker to finish their projects. Students design their projects with Adobe Illustrator, SolidWorks, Cura, and other software programs. They use laser engravers, table saws, woodworking tools, plexiglass, and fabric to bring life to their projects. Whether it is making a canvas tote bag or a fun cornhole game for school events, students are making it all. Ms. Jones’ goal is to encourage students “to use their imagination to create and to design... [using] tools that they would use if they're in any manufacturing field.” Not only do students have access to a classroom full of table saws, vinyl cutters, and lasers, but they also learn to stay safe as if they were out in the field. Students are met with personal protection equipment (PPE) as they enter the workroom. Because they are working with heavy machinery, one of the first lessons in the class is how to stay safe. Armando Saldivar said this class will allow him to pursue a career in construction after graduation. “With the skills that I obtain, I want to be able to do my own stuff with saws, and drills, and to cut wood properly without getting hurt," said the junior. Before taking out the drills and saws to build spice racks, Armando and his group had to first design their product. This is an aspect of the class that encouraged Natalie Mayorga to enroll. The junior’s counselor encouraged her to enroll in manufacturing because of her interest in art. This class has given her the opportunity to explore the different art mediums she can use and learn from. Manufacturing offers her tools that are not readily available to any artist her age. Natalie’s group has built coasters resembling vinyl records with a record player-looking holder and is currently working on creating fashionable bandanas for dogs. Using a computer, vinyl-cutting device, fabric, heat press, and a sewing machine has allowed Natalie and her group to create art while learning about the manufacturing process. Similarly to Armando, Natalie also credits this class with helping her with her goals after high school. “My dream is actually to start my own business for art that I have created… This really helps because I get to create my own art,” she said. In only its second year at Patriot, Ms. Jones’ manufacturing classes are building a strong foundation for emerging builders and artists. The classroom was designed by this year’s students, including the art around the walls and the wooden lockers students built to store their projects. They are creating the perfect environment for the next artisans to build away.
|Fine Tuning||2/28/2023 8:00:00 AM|| John Parker leads each guitar lesson with attentiveness and enthusiasm. Witnessing his seemingly endless energy, it may be hard to believe that the Mira Loma Middle teacher has advised the school’s guitar club for over twenty years.
But his exuberance is why the club endures as each class graduates. “He has energy like he actually wants to teach us,” said seventh grader Guillermo Comparan on what is most enjoyable about guitar club. Guillermo, who wants to be a musician, knew a bit of guitar before joining the club but credits Mr. Parker with teaching him the songs and skills he needed to progress.
“Most of them are beginners,” said Mr. Parker of his students. “But I'd say every once in a while I'll get a couple of intermediate kids and once in a blue moon, an advanced student.”
Funded by the Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELO) Program as of last year, the guitar club meets each Tuesday after school. Students begin by tuning their instruments, a mix of electric and acoustic guitars owned mainly by the students themselves, though Mr. Parker loans out a few. Then Mr. Parker hands out a packet of new songs or chords to cover during the lesson.
To instruct his students, Mr. Parker uses eMedia, the veteran beginning guitar lesson software that once came on CDs but now sells as digital downloads. “That’s a good program,” said Mr. Parker. “In fact, that's how I learned by, with the old school discs.” The software hosts classic songs by Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, John Lennon, and others, introducing younger generations to music they might not otherwise know.
After covering new material, Mr. Parker leads the class in a review, then they move on to playing modern, popular songs the students are familiar with before ending the meeting with a showcase where students share something they have learned on the guitar. Even if it is just a few notes, the showcase helps build students’ confidence as they perform solo in front of their teacher and peers. Most of Mr. Parker’s students will leave the club at the advanced beginner or early intermediate level, but he has years where students are intermediate to advanced.
Beyond the benefit of learning to play an instrument, Mira Loma’s guitar club enriches students socially and academically. “They all like music. It’s a common ground,” said Mr. Parker of the social benefits. “It brings them together in a school environment and they actually get to know each other better…and help one another. Not only in guitar [club] but outside of guitar as well.” Also a math teacher, Mr. Parker believes the measures and counting involved in reading sheet music strengthen students academically, too.
For his part, the teacher has learned to be more patient with students and not fret if a guitar is out of tune or someone strums the wrong chord. “I have to remember that I was there once in their shoes,” he said.
For participating students, the guitar club is something to look forward to even on tough days. “It makes me want to come to school,” shared Jasmin Pineda, eighth grade, “because I'm excited to take this class and to learn how to improve my skills.”
|Growing Well||1/31/2023 8:00:00 AM|| Welcoming visitors to the Wellness Center at Rubidoux High School is a group of students eating their school lunch, excitedly waiting for the next card to be called in their third round of Millenial Lotería. As sounds of pop music play faintly in the background, students enjoy a game of Jenga, while others play a classic game of Connect 4 and catch up. The Wellness Center is full of students enjoying their school’s new space meant to target their well-being and mental health. “Wellness Wednesdays is a place where you can get away from anything that’s stressing you out and bothering you,” said Litzy Plascencia, RHS senior and Wellness Wednesday attendee, about the new weekly program offered by the Wellness Center. Surrounded by positive messages and various posters depicting grounding techniques on the walls, students are happy to spend their lunch with their school’s mental health professionals in a calming environment. Every week the Wellness Center’s peer specialist, outreach worker, and behavioral health specialist facilitate Wellness Wednesdays with the intention that students will come in and decompress with them during their lunchtime. Students are welcome to hang out on a fur bean bag chair, play board games, or work on puzzles. With the goal to create a safe space on campus, the center staff uses these tools to encourage students to talk to one another, distract them from their classes, and be free within the walls of the center. New to the Rubidoux campus, the Wellness Center is designed to prioritize and deal with students’ mental health and help meet their basic needs. The center gives both students and staff access to mental health professionals, a community closet, resources, and a community for support. “It’s important for Rubidoux to have a peer specialist and these programs on campus because it shows students that there’s always an individual that can help them out through anything that they’re going through,” said Melody Diaz, peer specialist. Ms. Diaz, being around the students’ age, can guide them as a reliable peer in different ways than adult teachers on campus can. The school’s efforts in improving the student experience are being noticed by students, like Litzy. “It lets students know that the school really does care about [our] well-being.” “Wellness Wednesdays came from the need to have a safe space for our students to be. A place where they can come together or alone and find a community,” said Delia Toscano, Community Schools Teacher on Special Assignment. She wants students to have a place where, “they’re going to be found with open arms, where they can find activities, things that they can enjoy, destress and meet new people.” Instead of dealing with their stress or personal battles on their own, they can now visit the Wellness Center for support, Ms. Diaz made clear. Creating a culture of wellness on campus will in turn give students the ability to focus on their academics and social lives in a healthier way. The Rubidoux community can expect to see new resources and programs becoming available as the Wellness Center expands. They will have access to onsite laundry machines and wellness toolkits to help cope with life’s stressors. With recent grant funding that includes $3 million in federal dollars to JUSD and two other Riverside County school districts for mental health programs, programs such as the Wellness Center flourish to meet student needs within the district. |
|Forward Momentum||1/31/2023 8:00:00 AM||
High school boys soccer is an intense sport. Unlike football and basketball, there are no timeouts. Each 80-minute long game is split in half with only a ten-minute break in between for teams to rest and regroup. Otherwise, players on the field get a break only when they are substituted with players on the bench.
Maintaining a competitive level of play for such a long and physically demanding stretch of time can be difficult for any student-athlete, but especially difficult for team captains, who hold additional responsibilities. “It’s harder for me to keep my motivation because I have to motivate everybody else,” said Juan De la Rosa, Jurupa Valley High captain.
Throughout each game, Juan communicates with his teammates, offering direction and urging them to play their best no matter the score. He can never afford to focus on only himself. The responsibility can weigh heavily, but knowing his teammates depend on him also drives him. “I have to show character and just be a captain,” he said.
Additionally, passion for the sport helps ease hardships. For Cody Miller, Rubidoux High captain, the feeling of playing soccer is “the best in the world.” Whenever he is upset or has experienced a tough day, getting onto the field almost always improves his mood.
Diego Ramirez, Patriot High captain, appreciates that soccer demands mental focus, forcing everything but the game into the background. “I feel like soccer's always giving me a distraction from school or other things…going on in life,” he said. Currently a senior, Diego uses soccer to find relief from stress brought on by his last year of high school.
Yet at the same time that soccer provides a distraction from school, the sport is also a motivator for school because students must maintain a 2.0 or above GPA in order to participate. “If I want to play soccer, I have to have good grades to do it,” said Cody. “So [soccer] motivates me to do well.”
Coaches are invested in their athletes’ academic success as well. At PHS, Head Coach Johnny Mosher makes any player who has fallen below a 2.0 run laps as a reminder to keep good grades. At JVHS, Hugo Ramirez encourages juniors and seniors to tutor his sophomores and freshmen. “They really have each other's back,” said the head coach of his athletes.
Soccer will never lose its intensity, but if players maintain their motivation and their grades, they can benefit from the valuable lessons and skills the sport will teach them.
“I think the challenge of it, the grind of it, the having to come out every single day whether it’s to train or play - they’re going to learn that’s how life is. You have to go to work every single day and you have to do your best,” said Brian Miller, RHS head coach. “I think that’s one of the big lessons they learn out here.”
And though it always feels great to celebrate a big win, Coach Mosher cares more that his athletes grow as individuals under his care. “It’s not just about the athletic realm,” he said. “It’s about the mentoring and making sure they become great young men when they leave here.”
|Mission Possible||1/31/2023 8:00:00 AM|| Attorneys in the criminal justice system commonly deal with the negative aftermath of crime. Not as common are opportunities to make a positive, preventative impact. But for nearly eight years, representatives from the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office and the Office of the Public Defender have been working to do just that, right here in Jurupa Unified.
Established in 2015, the Community Mentors Partnership program is a joint venture between Mission Bell Elementary, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, and the Office of the Public Defender. The program forms mentoring relationships between Riverside County professionals and Mission Bell students facing challenges at school or at home. The goal is that, with guidance from positive role models in their lives, these students navigate social or academic barriers to succeed and flourish.
Fifth and sixth-grade students with academic or social needs are selected by teachers to participate. Mentors visit Mission Bell’s campus each month to speak one-on-one or in small groups with their mentees, offering helpful advice and inspiration for the future. Mentors assist with issues ranging from bullying to reading comprehension. “I think the mission of this program is to give back to the communities that need it the most,” shared Patricia Mejia, deputy public defender.
Many of the mentors, including Ms. Mejia, are first-generation college students who grew up in low-income households similar to their mentees. Many also come from immigrant families, another commonality in the Mission Bell community. “I have a lot in common with these children,” said Arlene Carrillo, deputy public defender. “My parents came into this country undocumented. When my parents finally became naturalized, I remember helping them study for their exam. I was that little girl translating for my parents because they couldn't speak English.”
Ms. Carrillo and her fellow mentors hope their life stories inspire mentees to overcome obstacles and strive to achieve their full potential, personally and professionally. “We want them to know that if we can do it, they can do it,” continued Ms. Mejia, “and whatever we have that we can give to them, we will [give] every single bit of it.”
Also important to the program is presenting a side of the law that students may not normally see or understand. “Our office should not just be seen as an office that comes in once something bad has happened,” stated Francisco Navarro, deputy district attorney. “We should definitely try to be more preventative.”
Mr. Navarro, who believes his office primarily exists to keep communities safe, works carefully to build relationships with his mentees based on trust and understanding so that students see him as an ally, not an enemy. “It's definitely important to create a positive view of what we do and then obviously try to [make] a real impact,” he added.
The mentorship program also includes visits to the Riverside Hall of Justice. Mentors have sponsored field trips and holiday parties, furthering their impact on the school and the wider community.
Ramona Sanchez, the teacher who helped establish the program at Mission Bell and continues to oversee its growth, remarked, “Any time you give community members the opportunity to participate with us in caring for children and showing their interest and dedication, I think, is a wonderful thing.”
|Connecting with their Culture||11/29/2022 8:00:00 AM|| On November 1st, Rubidoux High’s Ballet Folklorico performed at Rustic Lane Elementary for a Día de los Muertos picnic, showing kids and families three regional dances they have learned Jalisco, Veracruz, and Danza de los Viejitos (Dance of the Old Men) de Michoacán.
“All the little kids were so excited to see us come out and dance,” said Angela Jimenez Cruz, junior dancer. “It felt really fulfilling watching little kids' faces light up.”
The joyous response to the performance makes Angela hopeful that some Rustic Lane students will join Ballet Folklorico when they attend RHS. “I think [Ballet Folklorico] is important because it introduces people to different cultures and what makes everyone so different and diverse in the world,” she said.
In addition to the picnic, Ballet Folklorico has performed for RHS during Hispanic Heritage Month and at the homecoming rally; at Camino Real Elementary for Lights on After School; at a local car show; and at Excelencia Latina’s inaugural celebration event. “[Outreach] helps draw attention to the culture,” said Corina Yoval Holmgren, club advisor. “I think it's important because of the population that we have in our schools and in our community.”
Ms. Yoval Holmgren, also a ceramics teacher, began the Ballet Folklorico club a few years ago after she noticed an interest in dance among her students. Currently, ten members rehearse three times each week before school and sometimes meet during lunch to review performances and plan events. “I think [Ballet Folklorico] helps kids get a sense of pride and connection to their culture,” said Ms. Yoval Holmgren.
Dancing is also a way to honor one’s family. “I joined to show my mom I appreciate her heritage,” said Leslie Ramirez, senior. She dances for students who, like her, are sometimes reluctant or afraid to embrace their culture. “Most students don't really participate in clubs and then regret it later on in life,” she added.
“[Folklorico allows me] to enjoy what it is to be Mexican,” shared Angela. “It just felt fulfilling showing my mom that I’m in the club – that it connects to where we come from.”
As the girls honor their culture and families, they also enrich their high school experience by forming strong friendships with fellow dancers. “[Before Folklorico] I felt like a lot of people didn't depend on me, like they just saw me as the girl on the side,” shared Jasmin Landin, sophomore. “But I've made a lot of new friends, and they always need my help and they always hype me up whenever I'm feeling down or nervous. I'm happy to be performing with them.” The club has strengthened Ms. Yoval Holmgren’s bond with students as well. Her dancers are comfortable sharing their feelings and asking for advice, and she is still in contact with many who have graduated. “I feel more of a connection with the kids than just being their teacher,” she said.
Above all, what remains most special is the feeling the students get when they dance. “It feels amazing. It feels like you’re free,” said Jasmin. “It’s just the best feeling. You’re so proud of yourself.”