DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — It's "National Arts In Education Week," and one Palm Beach County school is taking the lead.
Plumosa School of the Arts K-8 in Delray Beach is helping students find their rhythm and offering opportunities that many children at the school wouldn't have otherwise.
In Maryann Benjamin's studio, everyone has a chance to get the steps.
But this isn't just dance class. It's middle school at Plumosa School of the Arts.
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"Dance for me has been a safe haven since I was a young girl," Benjamin said.
As a Title I school, these classes are reaching students and communities that don't always have the access.
"I'm really excited to share the artistic journey, the activism that you can create with our art, as well as just the joy," Benjamin said. "The emotional, the social, and also the physical achievements the kids go through."
Only about 15% of the students at Plumosa School of the Arts take lessons in the arts outside of school. So that makes the time in the classroom all the more beneficial.
"It can become very expensive for a family to get private lessons for their children or enroll them into an after-school program," principal Ronda Smith said. "Our students are lucky because, here, we don't have those barriers."
Smith is more than the principal at Plumosa. She's a professionally trained dancer, leading with a unique perspective.
"For me, this is meaningful work," Smith said. "When I look at my students, I see a lot of opportunity. I see their brilliancy. I see their passion. I see their wonder, because they don't know what they don't know."
Smith also brings the curriculum full circle.
"Ms. Smith was my dance professor in high school at Dreyfoos School of the Arts," Benjamin said. "She has stuck by my side, or rather I've stuck by hers for the entire journey thus far."
The school is creating a pipeline from arts middle school to arts high school.
Students spend up to two hours a day dedicated to their passion.
"I like how I can express myself and how, especially with modern, I can let it all go," student Rachelle Beauboeuf said.
"If you are having a rough day, you can easily break free from everything. It gives you a power and a motive," student Malia Riley added.
So whether they train to become professionals, or just enjoy the hobby, Benjamin hopes the movement propels them to a greater purpose.
"I hope my students find the connectivity, not only on the dance floor, but as human beings," Benjamin said. "Make connections in their academic and just become greater humans."
Plumosa School of the Arts K-8 has programs in dance, graphic design, band, vocal, theater, piano, strings, television production, and visual arts.
The middle school is a choice program, meaning students from around the School District of Palm Beach County can go there and there are no auditions required. For more information, click here.