Steamboat High School to add dance, mock trial teams next year

Dancers perform “Infatuation” during a rehearsal for this year's Dance Showcase at Steamboat Spring High School.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

The Steamboat Springs Board of Education approved the addition of two new activities at Steamboat Springs High School on Monday, March 7.

Starting next school year, students will be able to participate on a dance team, a reboot of a team the school has had in the past, and on a mock trial team, which is believed to be a first in Steamboat.

The proposals for the new programs came from athletics director Luke DeWolfe, who recommended the board approve each at the board’s Jan. 24 meeting. The new activities are three-year pilot programs, though superintendent Brad Meeks said if there was little or no participation, they wouldn’t do them.

“There would have to be a conversation if we didn’t have enough members,” Meeks said on Monday. “I can’t tell you what the minimum is, but obviously if it is a low number we’re not going to run the program.”

The high school last had a dance team in 2013, and initially interest was strong. But DeWolfe said when students started to realize the commitment it took, numbers trickled out.

He also said they had strong coaches when the program started, but their interest also declined, and eventually the program ended in 2015. A dance team had a similar run around 2007, but that, too, faded away after two years.

Alexa Struss, a dance coach who said she recently moved to Steamboat, submitted the latest proposal for the dance team and said she sees both the need for a program, and the potential it has.

“The dance community (in Steamboat) is huge,” said Struss, who added she is a member of several local dance groups. “I have heard from many people in the community since I’ve been here that there is a need for something that is not as competitive, not as expensive.”

One problem in the past was that local dance studios discouraged their students from dancing on the high school team, which cut into the number of students that had said they were interested. Participation in other activities, like the high school’s annual Dance Showcase and cheerleading, also were conflicts for students, DeWolfe said.

But Struss said she has had experience running a dance team before, and that other local studios have been supportive of her effort, even potentially allowing the future team time and space to practice.

“I assumed it was a student who had proposed this, so how great to have an experienced coach propose this,” said board member Kim Brack.

Finding a place to practice was a concern for the dance team, but Meeks said the district would find them appropriate space and that the new team would be afforded the same opportunities as any other activity at the school. The board ended up adding a statement ensuring equity for new teams when they approved them on Monday.

The other activity is a mock trial team, which, unlike dance, doesn’t have the same space issues, as DeWolfe said there are classrooms available for practice after school.

DeWolfe said while some lesson plans include a mock trial, he didn’t think the school had ever had a team like it. Open to all students, DeWolfe said several local attorneys have reached out to him saying they have experience coaching a team like this and are willing to help.

“I think it is a great way to take civics and go above and beyond,” said board member Chresta Brinkman at the Jan. 24 meeting, noting that, as a former debater, she was excited to hear about the team. “I think it really can help with people who are interested in that as a potential career path for them.”

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