After Peters dance stopped due to twerking, board member suggests dance lessons

February 20, 2014
Peters Township High School - Allison Duratz / The Almanac

McMURRAY – After a high school dance was stopped early because of students “twerking,” a Peters Township School Board member is suggesting they be offered dance lessons.

Board member William Merrell was chaperoning the Feb. 8 dance, and said during Tuesday’s school board meeting today’s students are learning their dance moves on MTV.

During the dance sponsored by a cheerleading booster club, the administration stopped the action at about 9:30 p.m. and students were told they could leave, said Shelly Belcher, district spokeswoman. Parents and guardians were called by the district to alert them to pick up students. The dance was to last until 10:30 p.m., Belcher said, and some students stayed.

Merrell was so concerned about what he described as “massive twerking,” that he told the board he contacted the local Arthur Murray Dance Studio to see what types of dance classes were offered. Not only would students learn the dances, but Merrell said he hopes the experience would result in the students learning some “social graces.”

Twerking is dancing in a sexually provocative manner that involves thrusting hip movements.

High school students he approached after contacting the dance studio said they would be interested in taking classes, which Merrell suggested could be held Saturday mornings off school property.

He asked the administration for a survey of students to determine any interest. The board agreed.

“We can’t hold kids to standards without them knowing what the standards are,” Merrell said.

Acceptance of his suggestions was not unanimous. Board member Ron Dunleavy said he does not condone the way the students were dancing, however, he said, the current generation is different. If offering dance lessons would result in raising test scores, Dunleavy said, he’d “be all for it.”

Merrell was not deterred stressing his belief younger generations need to learn social graces.

Board member Lynn Erenberg said her son was one of the students Merrell approached about taking dance lessons and he said he would be interested. However, Erenberg said she believes social graces should be taught by parents. As for her son’s positive response, she said he was being respectful of Merrell, something, she said, he learned at home.

“In theory, it’s a great idea,” Erenberg said. “Will it work? I’d be interested in seeing.”

The Feb. 8 dance “may have gotten out of hand,” according to Erenberg. When the doors opened, 600 students were waiting to enter.

Board member Sue Smith stressed the event was not a school-sponsored dance. Superintendent Jeannine French said the district would discuss how to avoid a similar situation in the future.

Township police were called twice during the dance, both times for 17-year-old students who were drinking. Two girls and one boy were released to their parents and received citations for underage drinking.

A representative of the group sponsoring the dance, known as the Snow Ball, offered to have a booster member attend any future meeting with the district if a policy is being discussed. She said the dance is held as a fundraiser for the group.



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