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Newtown Students Step Out For The Polka During International Week

Students at Newtown Middle School traded their textbooks for the dance floor, learning the polka during an event Tuesday. Photo Credit: Jay Polansky
Students at Newtown Middle School traded their textbooks for the dance floor, learning the polka during an event Tuesday. Photo Credit: Jay Polansky
Students at Newtown Middle School traded their textbooks for the dance floor, learning the polka during an event Tuesday. Photo Credit: Jay Polansky

NEWTOWN, Conn. — Newtown Middle School students traded their books for the dance floor Tuesday.

Newtown resident Deb Linley introduced several groups of students at the school to polka dancing as part of International Education Week in Newtown’s public schools.

“It’s nice they’re given the opportunity,” Linley told the Daily Voice as she took a break between classes. “I don’t think kids get enough exposure to dance.”

Linley said she chose polka dancing because it is “kid-friendly.” Many younger students are hesitant to hold hands, which is the norm in many partner dances, she said.

But the type of polka dance she chose for the students is fun and moves quickly, Linley said. It also involves no hand holding.

“This is usually a good dance,” Linley said.

In line with the week’s international theme, Linley said Polka dance introduces students to the culture of another continent.

“It’s a European dance,” she explained. “It originated in Bohemia, which is now part of the Czech Republic.”

Linley taught students in four 20-minute blocks in the school’s gym. An experienced dance teacher, Linley instructs students in ballroom and Latin dance at Vitti’s Dance Studio in Danbury.

Across the district, Newtown students celebrated International Education Week with music and dance, international clothing and sports jerseys, acts of kindness, art projects, and international foods at lunchtime.

International Education Week is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education.

“It is an opportunity for schools, colleges, businesses, associations and community organizations to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide,” according to a statement from the Newtown International Center for Education.

“We join this international effort to promote programs that prepare our students for a global environment,” the center added.

The center is a nationally recognized not-­for-­profit program initiated by the Newtown Public Schools.

The center’s programs offer student learning through real-world experiences, professional development for educators, international exchange for students and educators, community learning opportunities and events for citizens.

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