The Salsa Club with the help and sponsorship of Samay Alvarez was initiated during the 2005-2006 school year by Stephanie Legra. With Stephanie’s love for dance and the assistance of Alex Rodriguez, a former Salsa Lover’s student, the challenge was on to teach students of all levels and backgrounds how to dance Salsa. Not only where they learning how to salsa, but they would also be dancing on the Rueda formation. Year after year I’m amazed by how this young generation, who has many genres of music, still falls back on their Latin roots. We are joined by students who do not speak the Spanish language, but love
the sounds of the drums. They learn the Spanish dance commands to every twist and turn. The Salsa Club members are a dedicated group. The Salsa club does not meet once a month like most clubs, these students meet twice a week and when the time to learn an advanced routine for the talent show, they can be found practicing at someone’s house on the weekends.
Since the first year Salsa club was established, one of the goals was to give back to the community. We choose a special time of the year to share with the elderly, the sick children, the orphans, and the homeless. Salsa Club first went to The Palace Elderly Center in 2006-2007. After only six months of learning, the
students felt confident enough to share a fun time with the elderly community. At The Palace, the students performed several numbers they had practiced during our meetings. After that, the elderly where welcomed to join the students in some dancing moves. We were amazed of how much they still loved the music, and how much they still wanted to dance. Some ladies could move faster than our young students. After much fun, the students served cookies and punch.
Later we joined them in different board games and of course some good old dominoes. The staff members at the center were very happy with our visit and our performance and invited us to come back soon. The experience filled everyone with love and I’m sure many went to visit their own grandparents shortly thereafter.
During the 2007-2008 school year we had the luxury of visiting the Miami Children Hospital to share a few hours of fun with the sick children who go to the playroom during their stay at the Hospital. Even though only a small group was allowed to participate, it was a great experience. We were able to read books, play basketball, blow bubbles and play computer games amongst other things. This was another way of giving back and learning of the many ways we can give our time to those in need.
During the 2009 – 2010 school year we visited a new elderly care center known as University Healthcare Center. This time we went during the Halloween Holiday. The elderly were dressed up in their favorite characters and were holding a competition for the best costume. We had a combination of dancers and talented musicians that attended our school. After performing for them we served them a meal, helped pick up and finally played the game of choice at the center; Dominoes. Once again the students had a great experience and were thankful to have spent a day with the older generation that is always in need of companionship..
After a few years of going to the elderly center we got a lucky break and were invited to go to an orphanage known as His House Children’s Home. This activity took place during Valentine’s Day 2010. Together with the SADD club, the students put together gift bags, many baked cookies, cupcakes, donated juices and candy to take to the children. VIP Aquariums donated a fish tank, a betta fish, and fish food to last years for the first grade class. The afternoon consisted of dancing, guitar playing, singing, and eating. The students picked a child to spend the afternoon with and everyone played games all afternoon. The first grade class learned how to care for their betta fish and they were all very excited. This must have been one of the saddest places we’ve visited. It was hard for many of the students to say good bye. It felt like we were leaving a part of us there. The staff at His House and the children alike where very happy we had visited and like other places welcomed us back anytime.
Luckily, Salsa Club continues to be very active and involved with the community. Salsa Club class 2010-20011 has taken their first field trip. What better place to go to than His House Children’s Home the day before Thanksgiving. On this day we helped in the donation room at the center. Once we arrived, the donation room was quite large and filled with racks, bags and boxes. It was very overwhelming at first, but once everyone was given an area to work with it moved along fairly well. The students had to sort through clothes and separate them by sizes, sexes and colors. The items that were stained or in too bad of shape for anyone to wear had to be disposed of. This room looked like an impossible place to fix, but after hours of folding, hanging and throwing away we were able to see the floor.
Later that morning a group was taken to help make Thanksgiving baskets to give to the needy families. The students were taken back by the need there is in our own country. We are helping the poor children who are being left alone by their parents and all they want is a little bit of love. During the time we were fixing clothes, one child came into the donation room and all he wanted was pajamas. This brought tears to our eyes, and made us realize how lucky we are. We thank our lucky stars to have our families and to be able to give our time to hopefully make their lives a little better. At the end of the day the staff couldn’t thank us more. We had accomplished a lot in the few hours we spent at the center. The students were filled with pride and were all in agreement that there was no better way of starting the Thanksgiving Holiday.
As much as we love the little ones, Salsa Club cannot stay away from the elderly centers. On December 2nd, 2011 Salsa Club took their fancy moves to The Joy of Life Daycare Center. There we were welcomed by a very friendly staff and a lively group of elderly members of the facility. They were playing Bingo when we arrived and once we were settled, they joined us in the area were the dancing would be taking place. The Salsa Group started by dancing one of their routines.
After dancing a few songs, we asked the elderly to join us and little by little the students picked an elderly to dance with. At first many of the students were shy and hesitant, but before they knew it, they were all dancing and having a good time. After a few dances, we helped serve lunch to the elderlies. There were also four birthdays being celebrated. We joined the staff in singing Happy Birthday to four of the members there. After a healthy lunch, three of the students took turns at playing the guitar, and singing songs. After the students were done performing, it was the students turn to be entertained. Many of the elderly in the center were very talented too. First, Dory one of the ladies sang two of her favorite songs from Puerto Rico. At age 85, she had a great set of lungs and we were all very impressed. Then one of their Chinese members Cay Sen taught the students the basic Thai moves and everyone loved his ability and knowledge. Mercedes was the last member to entertain our students. In her young age she used to be a teacher and she reminded our students about kindergarten. She had us singing ABC’s; Mary had a little lamb, La cucaracha, among others. After listening to many stories and dancing along with everyone, the students joined the elderly in the favorite game of dominoes. After a few hours at the center, no one was ready to leave. Somehow a bond was built and the students felt as if they were leaving
their grandparents behind. Many of the student’s eyes were filled with tears and sadness. One of the ladies ran after us to find out when we would be coming
back. Once again everyone, had an amazing time and it was another successful event.
In February of 2012 the Salsa Club together with the Music Club visited the Homelss Voice Shelter. We took clothing donations and food donations. When we arrived all we could think of was staying on the bus and coming back to school. It looked like a very scary place, but we had made a promise to spend time with the less fortunate and it would be a good lesson to our students. We found the person in charge and they took us to their cafeteria/bedroom. The kids clumped together afraid to touch anything or look at anyone. Eventually a friendly face welcomed us and gave us a tour of the shelter in small groups. Once the students looked at the sleeping arragements and the things they offer, we went to get lunch ready for those who would be stopping by to eat. Salsa Club was in charge of the kitchen, while our Music club set up their instruments and started to take turns at playing happy tunes. Once everything was in motion, the afternoon was quite nice. After the musicians were done, it was time to dance. It was hard getting them to join us on the dance floor, but before we left we did the Conga line and some did dance with us. While we were picking up, a few members of the shelter thanked us for stopping by. Once on the bus, the students were very happy to have gone to the shelter and could only talk about coming back.
I foresee Salsa Club being around for many more years. I have been the Salsa club sponsor from the beginning and I couldn’t be any prouder of our students. They take hours out of their day to practice twice a week to perfect their routine. They are always happy to take a few hours of entertainment to others in the community. We couldn’t be blessed with a better group of students.
To my Salsa Club members, I love each and every one of you and I appreciate everything you do.