The women and girls come dressed in hoop skirts while the men wear waistcoats and breeches. They hand their cards to the footman and have their names announced. On the last day of school the annual Revolutionary Ball is the opportunity for fourth through sixth grade students at Founders Classical Academy of Flower Mound to practice the etiquette and dances they have learned during the school year.
Art teacher Amber Jordan, who serves as the ball chairwoman, believes the ball encapsulates much of what the students have only seen in books.
“Last year we were trying to think of an event that would fit the model of our school. The idea rolled around about how we study so much of the Revolutionary War time period. We decided a ball like what George Washington would have attended would fit perfectly,” she explains.
Launched in 2016, the school’s first year, the ball pulls from history, literature, art and music classes as well as supports the school’s focus on virtue education. Currently, only fourth through sixth grade students attend the ball, but as the school adds grade levels, the older grades will continue to attend.
“It’s wonderful to give students this foundation both of polite manners and skill at dancing that they can build on as they get older. As a parent, it’s a joy to see your children interacting with others in a wholesome, uplifting atmosphere,” says Headmaster Sam Vanderplas.
The kids start preparing for the ball at the beginning of the school year with etiquette lessons. Science teacher Melakeh McDonald teaches the students both colonial and modern etiquette. From teaching students how to enter an elevator and wear a name tag to setting a table and making conversation, the etiquette lessons encourage a positive school environment.
“We always talk about the reasons behind the etiquette rules, and it really ties back into virtue education. What we are doing with the classical education is searching for the good and true and beautiful in each other and with all that we are learning,” says Ms. McDonald. “If we maintain an atmosphere that allows students to respectfully engage with each other, it allows us to go so much deeper in class.”
At the ball, the benefit of the etiquette lessons is visible.
“Last year my husband commented that he had never seen middle schoolers so well behaved and dancing at a ball. They are so used to dancing and talking at school that they are all interacting. You don’t have the kid hanging out in the corner or sitting alone,” Ms. McDonald recounts.
Besides having fun learning etiquette, students are particularly interested in doing well on their etiquette test at the end of the year because it determines their title at the ball. Every student at the ball is announced when they come in the door, but students who do particularly well on their etiquette test are lords and ladies or dukes and duchesses for the night.
Parent and dance instructor Julie Moulas volunteers her time to teach students the different dances of the period during their physical education classes. From the Virginia Reel to the Dutch Skipper, dancing was so popular at last year’s ball that they had to extend the event later than planned.
“It is wonderful to see how what they learned in the classroom comes to life. It is bigger than just a dance, they are more invested because they have studied that time period in depth,” Mrs. Moulas explains.
In addition to the etiquette and dance lessons, students learn the calligraphy of the time in their art classes. After practicing the calligraphy, they create their name card for the ball that they will give to the announcer.
With two years down, the ball planning committee is hoping to grow the event in future years to include a traditional sit-down meal and possibly different time periods the students study.
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