Stomp, clap! Stomp, clap! The rhythm of a step dance performance can shake the stage and infect a crowd with excitement. Itâ€™s something you can experience yourself at the Classic Center this weekend. The ninth annual College Recruitment and Resource Fair and Youth Scholarship Step Show will be held Saturday, Mar. 3 starting at 11 a.m. with the resource fair, followed by the step show at 5 p.m.
The fair is organized by the local nonprofit Project Safe, which fights against domestic abuse through education, prevention, intervention and advocacy, and the Athens chapter of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, which is composed of the nine historically black sororities and fraternities. But Marvin Nunnally, chairman of the Athens Alumni NPHC Scholarship Committee and an alumnus of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity of the University of Georgia, says the college resource fair is not just for black students: itâ€™s for everyone looking to go to college. Nunnally is excited about the fair because it gives young people the tools to achieve their post-high school goalsâ€”and itâ€˜s also a fun way for kids to show off their step-dance moves with some friendly competition.
â€œThis is not geared toward black kids; itâ€™s geared to kids, period,â€ he says. Nunnally says itâ€™s part of the NPHCâ€™s mission to give back to communities and to help youths attain college degrees. He himself was aided by an NPHC scholarship, and feels a duty to pay it forward.
â€œSomebody helped me along the way,â€ he says. â€œAnd, of course, itâ€™s the right thing to do. Giving back to the community has been a passion of mine all my life.â€
The fair will feature workshops about the HOPE Scholarship and financial aid, as well as ACT and SAT preparation, workshops on staying healthy and understanding the impact of domestic abuse. Recruiters from colleges, technical schools, trade schools and the Armed Forces will be there to talk with students.
But the highlight for many people will come in the evening with the step show and competition. Beverly Ford is a resource teacher at J.J. Harris Elementary Charter School in Athens and also the step advisor for the school. She was introduced to step as a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority in college and thinks the annual step show is an excellent opportunity for young people to better themselves.
â€œI think it was a wonderful idea that started nine years ago,” she says, “that gives children the opportunity to work on teamwork, coordination, self-confidence and working with other kids.â€
She says her students thrive in step club because it gives them a reason to want to do well in academic classes (they must maintain their grades to stay eligible for the team). It also teaches them to live up to positive expectations of behavior from their coaches, teachers and parents. â€œItâ€™s definitely positive for a lot of kids that are on step team,” she says. “They are expected to have positive behavior within the classroom and the community, so the students are focusing not just on step, but also on grades.â€
For J.J. Harris student Karmen Hill, 11, the step show will be her first chance to compete. â€œIâ€™m excited because I like to step,â€ she says. â€œItâ€™s fun.â€ She likes step club because itâ€™s easy to learn, so anyone can get into it. Plus, itâ€™s not something you have to work on all day to get good at, so she doesnâ€™t get bored.
The students will compete for a trophy and bragging rights for best step performance in various age categories. There will also be guest exhibition teams from Project Safe and from Saint Maryâ€™s Hospital.
Before the fair, at 8:30 a.m. at the Holiday Inn at 197 E. Broad St., there will be an â€œempowerment breakfastâ€ featuring author, educator and motivational speaker Mychal Wynn, who will discuss strategies for strengthening partnerships between faith-based institutions and local schools, and how those partnerships can help children achieve success from primary school through college. Tickets to the breakfast are $15.
The College Resource Fair runs from 11 a.m.â€“3 p.m. and is free. Tickets for the step show are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Proceeds benefit the Athens Alumni NPHC Scholarship Fund and Project Safe. To purchase tickets or for more information about the resource fair and the National Pan-Hellenic Council, go to www.athensalumninphc.com.
Like what you just read? Support Flagpole by making a donation today. Every dollar you give helps fund our ongoing mission to provide Athens with quality, independent journalism.