OMES students continue square dancing tradition
By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer
NORTH SHELBY—Second grade physical education class was anything but average at Oak Mountain Elementary School on Jan. 22. Students, dressed in western garb, filed in to the school gym to perform choreographed square dancing for their parents and relatives.
The performance is the culmination of a three-week rhythm unit taught in physical education class. For second grade students, this unit always consists of square dancing, OMES P.E. teachers Allen McGowan and Sallie Youngblood explained.
“This is an Oak Mountain Elementary School tradition,” Youngblood said.
“Our second graders always do square dancing,” McGowan said, adding he’s taught square dancing each of his 22 years at OMES. “Probably before I got here it was being done.”
At the beginning of the unit, each class is split into “square teams” of between eight and 10 students. Students create a team name, which they keep throughout the unit. McGowan noted the creativity of the names, which range from the “Perfect Pythons” to the “Magic Miners.”
Throughout the three weeks, students learn and perfect a variety of square dances and moves, including do-si-do, promenade and allemande.
“They’ve learned nine dances,” McGowan said. “They go from really simple to a little more complicated.”
Dancing is not every student’s favorite or best activity, so McGowan and Youngblood encourage effort and good attitudes.
“As long as you’re trying and doing your best, that’s all we ask,” Youngblood said.
The final performance offers the students an opportunity to show off the skills they’ve learned throughout the unit. Students are encouraged to dress up in western wear for the day, and families are invited to attend their child’s P.E. class.
“This is a fun way to end it for them, they dress up and they have guests,” McGowan said. “They do a great job, we’ve got nice kids, it makes it easy.”