Warm memories fill my mind as I reminisce 2016 with Dunleavy. We have had growth and expansion in every form; a new dance floor, two new classes of students, two new MARO plaques to hang on the wall, twenty three new novice dancers, and we experienced countless competitions, practices, and parties together. We went above and beyond our goals for 2016 and I expect we will achieve nothing but excellence again in 2017.
My goal for Dunleavy this year is to continue to grow our programing for our teenage students so we can offer them a developmental and spiritual community. Dunleavy is a family and has always been more than just a sport to it's students. The unconditional love and acceptance among the student body creates a safe space for these young women to be their authentic selves and the support and encouragement among the classmates creates an environment where students thrive to their highest potential. Dunleavy is a place where students set a high standard for themselves and experience the challenge and reward that comes along with achieving personal excellence. Dunleavy is maturing as it's students grow and enter high school. Our goals this year is to create new programing to support developmental growth in their teenage years. I am looking forward to connecting with our dancers in this new way as I watch them become young women and the future leaders. Happy new year, Dunleavy!
I am still getting caught up after a very busy Thanksgiving in Philadelphia and I am reflecting on so many things we have to be thankful for. Our school is comprised of some of the most amazing people I have ever met in my life. Traveling out of state with 17 dancers and their families left me with so many incredible memories to cherish. I want to share with you some of my favorite experiences that truly touched me while we were at the Oireachtas.
One of our teams of 12-year olds were sharing their Thanksgiving meal together in their hotel room and realized they had an abundance of food left over. Although the girls had only been in the city for a few hours they had recognized the incredible need for acts of charity and wanted to respond in a positive way. They wrapped up individual meals with paper plates and tin foil and stepped outside onto the streets of downtown Philadelphia to hand out food to the hungry.
After the competitions ended on Saturday we had students and parents clean and transform the ballroom to to help Fr. Brian (co-founder of Dunleavy) with Saturday night mass. It was such a special experience that we were able to share together to start Advent.
The level of sportsmanship that I witnessed from our dancers was incredibly moving. Every time one of our girls performed there was a resounding cheer in the ballroom, louder and longer than all the others. Another teacher commented how much of a presence we have and was astounded to learn that we were one of the smallest schools represented at the Oireachtas yet we had the loudest and most visible presence. But that's Dunleavy, we support each other in such a strong way. There was another teacher that commented on how excited one of my students looked at the award ceremony, the dancer was jumping up and down and grinning ear to ear with pure and genuine happiness. They were really taken back when I told them she wasn't even in that competition, that she was cheering for a classmate. All weekend we had dancers literally running to different ballrooms to support their classmates, we even had a dancer who was not competing drive down with her mom to watch her classmates. Another student who wasn't dancing woke up at 5:00am every morning to help her classmates prepare with wigs and makeup for their early competition. I am always so impressed by the level of sportsmanship our dancers show to each other. The community these girls have created is so powerful it brought me to tears on multiple occasions. Dunleavy truly is a community I am honored to call my own.