SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP - When most children think dance and music, they think of Justin Timberlake or Hannah Montana. But thanks to the After School Discovery program, students in the Ashtabula Area City School District benefited from an "Artist in Residence" from the Inlet Dance Theatre in Cleveland.

The Inlet's founder and artistic director, Bill Wade, spent several days with After School Discovery's "Celebrate" program schools. Celebrate students have no access to this type of program through normal school curriculum and no formal exposure to dance education, and yet, more than 500 students put on a stunning performance for their parents Nov. 20 at Lakeside High’s Performing Arts Center, said Martha Banks, Celebrate program director.

Three of the students thanked the school board at Wednesday night’s meeting. They said they found the experience fun, challenging and it provided them with more confidence.

Superintendent Joseph Donatone thanked the chidlren for sharing their experiences.

“We will try to continue to provide experiences like this,” he said.

In the past few years, Wade has worked with ballet students at the Ashtabula Arts Center, as well.

Formerly, he worked as an artist in residence for the Cleveland School of the Arts (CSA), where he founded the nationally-recognized and awarded after school program YARD — Youth At Risk Dancing. He received the Standing Up Taller Award at the White House by the National Endowment for the Arts and the President's Committee for the Arts and Humanities.

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