Putting their best fox trot forward

Local dignitaries will dance for literacy

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published March 4, 2013

WARREN — School and city dignitaries will shake their tail feathers, kick up their heels and try to dance their way to victory — all in the name of reading.

Borrowing a few moves from the ABC hit show “Dancing with the Stars,” the Warren Consolidated Educational Foundation will present “Warren Con’s Night of Stars” April 13 at the Royalty House.

The evening will include dinner, a silent auction, student musical performances and a dance competition featuring local dignitaries, including Warren Consolidated Schools Superintendent Robert Livernois, Sterling Heights Councilmember Maria Schmidt and Warren councilmembers Patrick Green and Keith Sadowski.

“We want it to be a fun evening out,” WCS Spokesperson Robert Freehan said, adding the event is semi-formal. “There was some interest from our local ‘celebrities’ to dance and do it for a good cause. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. At 8 p.m., we’ll start the dancing.”

Tickets prices are $65 per person or $600 for a front-row table of 10. Other tickets are $50 per person or $450 for a table of 10. And while the evening will be a ‘Fred-and-Ginger’ showdown that entertains, it also will benefit the district’s students. Event proceeds will support the district’s Literacy Libraries.

WMGC 105.1 radio personality Lisa Jesswein, WCS Chief Academic Officer Brian Walmsley, Cousino High School Principal Stephen Bigelow and Warren Mott Principal John Dignan also have stepped into the dancing battle.

The show will follow the format of “Dancing With The Stars.” The “celebrity” dancers have been paired with professional dancers Amanda Accica, Bill Scheff, Diana Trivax-Levy, Dwight Davis, Emily Rose, Jami Aupperle, Meredith Watkins, Paul Carryer and Theresa Sockey. The dignitaries and professional dancers will meet periodically before the event to learn their routines. Rehearsals already began.

Freehan said each table will have an electronic device where audience members will vote for their favorite couple. Each couple will wear costumes that fit their particular dance. The winning couple receives a trophy. The dance floor will open up after the contest for audience members to dance the night away.

The idea for such a dance event came by the way of Educational Foundation Trustee Paulette Brockington. The Foundation members brainstormed several fundraising ideas, and this one stuck.

“My thought was we would recognize all different dances,” she said. “The fox trot, the waltz, the paso doble. We’ll do the Hustle, which was most prominent in the ’70s and ’80s, and the Lindy Hop.”

Brockington knows a thing or two about dancing. She has been a dancer and choreographer for the Michigan Opera Theatre and is a two-time world swing champion.

Since 1987, the all-volunteer Warren Consolidated Educational Foundation has raised money not available through the district’s general fund for various projects. In the past, the group has supported Winning Futures, provided scholarships, supported art programs and more. “Literacy Libraries” is its current project.

Freehan said the Literacy Libraries is designed to help students improve their reading skills. The libraries are essentially a group of books that have a “reading level” number on them. The books are used in class.

“It’s so a teacher can give the students books appropriate to their reading level,” Freehan said. “The Literacy Libraries are available in the elementary and middle schools, and selected rooms in the high schools.”

When reading, the student will learn new vocabulary words. They also have the opportunity to move to the next reading level. Freehan said 75 percent of the books are non-fiction and “touch on subjects kids might be studying in that area,” such as science or history.

“At the elementary levels, many of the fiction books are related to the classics,” he said. “They will have illustrations in them.”

For ticket information on “Warren Con’s Night of Stars” call (586) 268-1736 or (586) 264-4157. Deadline to purchase tickets is April 5. The Royalty House is located at 8201 Old 13 Mile.