Palm Valley Academy preparing for dance team

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Starting this year, Palm Valley Academy will have a dance team that it can call its own.

The team was made possible after the St. Johns Middle School Athletic Association approved the addition of dance team programs at each of its county schools.

According to Palm Valley head coach Nicole Pesant, it is a major step for the future and presents middle school girls in the county with another option to choose and can only help them in the transition to high school.

“You go into high school as a ninth grader and it is a whole new world, but if you’re already trying out for dance team, it makes it easier for them to build friendships and adjust,” Pesant said.

For the first year it was also decided that some schools would have their teams combined to help with certain programs that had lower numbers of participants starting out.

Palm Valley was one of those as they combined forces with Valley Ridge Academy and teamed up to compete as one.

However, the uniforms and jackets they wore were generic and did not have either schools’ colors.

“It has made it difficult to feel connected with the school and really capture that school pride,” Pesant said.

Getting the word out to both parents and students is one of the continuing challenges that Pesant faces moving forward.

“It’s so important, especially as a new program,” Pesant said. “Some of the schools are even still struggling to find coaches.”

One of the things that she believes helps Palm Valley is the fact that the school already has a cheer program in place, which has had success and been able to develop a good support.

According to Pesant, the dance team will follow a similar model as the cheer program, which remains active about 11 months out of the year, generally from April to March.

“School dance teams are a different style and require a different skill set than competitive dance or a private dance studio,” Pesant said. “It’s more about the entertainment value.”

Although it will be difficult for girls to do both because of the schedules matching up, she encourages any girls that have a passion for dance or that do not make the cheer team to come tryout.

“There are probably about 400 girls at the middle school, and my goal is to at least get 10% (40) of them to come out for the team,” Pesant said.

Registration for the team begins March 9 and will remain open until April 24. Parents can register their child by going to SJMSAA.com/dance and selecting the school their child attends. A $25 registration fee is required.

Selecting the specific school is an extra step from the previous registration process when the schools were combined and did not necessarily have their own teams.

Palm Valley will hold tryouts April 28 at 5 p.m. in the school’s gym. Parents and students are also invited for a meet and greet with Pesant April 21 at 6:30 p.m. in the cafeteria.

For more information go to the team’s Facebook page @pvadance.

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