Athletes & Artists Series: Dancing Towards School Excellence | Trafalgar Castle School
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January 23, 2024

Athletes & Artists Series: Dancing Towards School Excellence

Melissa Nowakowski

student dancing


Trafalgar Castle School student Samantha J. began singing and dancing around her house at the young age of two. So, to her parents, enrolling Samantha in ballet lessons seemed like a natural progression. Now in Grade 10, Samantha has been dancing competitively for years.

“Dancing serves as a means for channelling my energy, promoting physical well-being and fostering artistic expression, all within the collaborative framework of a competitive dance team.” Samantha explains, “I love performing my dances on stage. I get an intense feeling of excitement right before I go on stage to compete.”

For half of the school year, Samantha dances for roughly 15 hours over three to five days per week. For example, on a typical Tuesday, Samantha will get picked up from school and eat dinner in the car on her way to the dance studio, where she practices until 10 p.m.  From there, it’s home, shower, then bed. During competition season, that schedule increases to four full days, with Samantha’s day beginning at 7 a.m. and ending at 9 or 10 p.m. It’s a rigorous schedule that requires balance and staying on one’s toes.

“It can be hard to balance dance schedules and school, and I also work on the weekends teaching children to swim.” Samantha shares, “I try to complete homework tasks that are due early after heavy dance days so that I stay on track. Trafalgar’s tutorial helps by allowing me extra time to complete my assignments on time.”

In addition to her self-discipline, Samantha participates in Trafalgar Castle School’s High Performing Athletes and Artists Program (HPAA). This program is designed to offer greater support and increased flexibility for students in Grades 9-12 pursuing athletics or the arts outside school at an elite level. The students who meet the program’s comprehensive criteria are made known to Upper School teaching staff, who then coordinate with each other to offer extra support when needed (students in Grades 4 to 8 are supported individually by their homeroom teacher).

student smiling“Programs like HPAA help to accommodate the demanding schedules of athletes while ensuring a balanced and supportive academic environment.” Samantha says, “This approach not only optimizes our skill acquisition but also cultivates discipline, time management and a strong work ethic, setting a foundation for success later in our post-secondary education life.”

Samantha says her favourite part of each competition is working together as a team to showcase what they have been working on all season. With four upcoming competitions happening between March and May 2024, there’s no doubt that a team effort — on the dance floor, at home and school — is necessary to support Samantha’s success as a competitive dancer, and the HPAA program is part of that.

“Being part of the HPAA program allows me to work on my art as a performer without sacrificing my academic achievements.” she says, “It is such a wonderful privilege to be able to work together to achieve all of my goals.”

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