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  New Dance Company Makes Its
OBy Alissa Reinhard Debut At O’Connor
n October 11, the Rising Stars her entire life, since age three. Pawelek Dance Team at O’Connor High decided to start the Rising Stars dance team School made its debut with an comprised of 22 special education students
  amazing inaugural performance at the school’s pep rally before the huge rivalry football game between O’Connor and Brandeis. O’Connor High School Pep Squad Director and Dance Teacher Amy Pawelek founded the program in order to give all students the opportunity to express themselves through dance.
Pawelek has been teaching at O’Connor High School for 12 years. She’s been a dancer
paired with advanced dance students after observing similar programs at other Northside ISD high schools.
“I had several students last year who could have benefitted from a mentorship dance team,” Pawelek explained. “I saw a need for the program here at O’Connor so I decided to start one myself.”
Pawelek attended a conference over the summer to help her prepare to form such a team and worked with administration at O’Connor to get the ball rolling. In just a few short months, since the beginning of the school year, Pawelek has already seen the positive implications Rising Stars has had on her dance students.
“Both my ALE and Gen Ed students leave class happy,” Pawelek said. “It’s a time when they can leave behind what’s going on in the world, on social media, in their own lives. I turn the music on and I see an instant change in their mood.”
On the morning of the Pep Rally, there was a slight mishap with the music, but the dance team took it in stride, revving up the crowd, keeping the energy high.
“I was so proud of them,” Pawelek said. “They did amazing. Once everything was sorted out, they put on amazing show. It
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  was phenomenal to see.”
The feedback from Pawelek’s Rising
Stars dance students, parents and teachers has been overwhelming positive.
“I’ve been thanked repeatedly for bringing the Rising Stars to OC Nation,” Pawelek said. “I believe all students need
and deserve an outlet to perform.”
Pawelek is actively searching for other performance opportunities in the community for her dance team and is excited for what the future holds for the
Rising Stars.
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