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This is a press release from the Newark School District. For NJ Ed Report commentary on the district’s ten-year strategic plan, see here or scroll to link at the bottom.
On Saturday, October 8, 2022, the Newark School District opened its doors to greet three and four-year-old budding ballet dancers and their families for its first-ever Saturday Prekindergarten Ballet Program. This program is the first in a series of their B4K (Before Kindergarten) initiative.
In alignment with the District’s ten-year strategic plan, The Next Decade: 2020 – 30, the work underway for families of children from conception to cradle is transformative and groundbreaking. Following that strategy and those efforts, the development of students from age 3 to grade 3 (“3 to 3”) is critical. The District is launching several programs for ages 3 and 4, providing challenging and rewarding experiences to children beyond the school day. This month those programs began with Ballet for Pre-K, located at Arts High School, the nation’s first-ever performing arts school.
The Principal of Arts High School in Newark, Devonne DeNose, is teaching the Ballet for Pre-K class on Saturdays with five Arts High School seniors who are dance majors (Zaynah Miller, LaShane Bradshaw, Madison Hibbert, Kiyomie Warsaw, and Hannah Cummings). Principal DeNose is herself a dancer, a graduate of Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for Music & Art and Performing Arts. She trained in dance at Bernice Johnson, DeVore Dance Center, and The Ailey School. She said, “Our prekindergarten students felt like they could conquer anything, stepping into high school when they are only of preschool age. They saw what older dancers look like and saw themselves. They learned how a new skill can blossom into a talent, a passion, and a career.”
Ballet requires strength and agility and teaches children ways to properly strengthen their bodies and stay healthy. This includes proper stretching techniques, flexibility practices, and how to recognize their physical limits. It is important that children learn these skills and techniques at a young age so they can avoid injury in the future and establish healthy habits.
Board of Education President Dawn Haynes is enthusiastic about the program and said, “Introducing our youngest learners to the arts at such an early age will lead to healthier choices as they grow into adulthood. Assisting parents in the development of their children at such an early age is definitely a much welcomed opportunity that I know parents will look forward to taking advantage of”.
Superintendent Roger León added, “This incredible initiative taps into their love of the arts and teaches our youngest students to remain focused. This will help develop muscle strength and discipline in ways that are both fun and educational. This is a great start for our B4K initiative. We look forward to announcing additional enrichment opportunities in the near future for Newark’s youngest learners. Coming soon is Swimming for Pre-K ”.