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Fairmont Student Uses Dance to Express Herself through Movement

Fairmont Historic Anaheim Campus 4th grader Stellina A. knows that communication and expression can be conveyed in a variety of forms — especially through dance.

From a young age, Stellina has been fascinated with dancing, particularly ballet, which she enjoys because of the graceful movements. She began taking classes when she was 3 years old and became inspired by the older girls she used to watch in the classes that were held right before hers.

“It looked so beautiful, and I wanted to become that type of dancer,” Stellina said. “I would always look at them and wonder, and that motivated me to become a better dancer.”

Stellina dedicates more than 10 hours of her time each week to pursuing her dance dreams.

Now 10 years old, Stellina dedicates a tremendous amount of her time and energy to improving her dancing and practicing for performances and competitions. Five days a week, she is either at Long Beach Ballet or Ling’s Dance Academy, the latter of which allows her to learn traditional Chinese styles of dance. Stellina said she enjoys adding the Chinese dance practice to her ballet studies, as it involves the use of many props and stresses the values and traditions in China.

“I get to learn a lot about the culture,” she said, “and it’s really fascinating to know how they express themselves through dance.”

While dancing takes up a large portion of Stellina’s spare time, she never lets it interfere with her academics. When her schedule is rather tight on Mondays and Tuesdays, she completes her homework assignments in the car ride on the way to dance practice, and she’s able to finish her homework at home on other days. Though both school and dancing are key components of her life, she doesn’t let them interfere with one another.

“In my life, education comes before dancing,” Stellina said. “Once I dance, I focus on dancing and nothing else. When I do academics, I focus on academics and nothing else.”

That focus has helped her accomplish many different accolades, including the “Elite Top First” award in last month’s KAR Dance Competition and gold in a recent Chinese-American Association competition. Though Stellina has also found success in many additional activities — including horseback riding, skating, art classes, chess, piano, and private Chinese classes — she knows that dancing is what she ultimately desires to pursue.

“I don’t want to stop dancing,” she said. “I love to perform on stage, and I like the applause, because it means that the audience is pleased with my dancing and that they really like it. All of that work and [physical] hardness on my body — it all pays off to see that the audience is happy.”

Stellina’s mother, Mary, said she enjoys seeing her daughter perform, even when she’s simply dancing around the living room. She said she feels that dancing truly helps her daughter express herself, a notion with which Stellina completely agrees. Though she’s not afraid of public speaking, she said it’s not something that makes her completely comfortable. Dancing, on the other hand, is an entirely different story.

“When you’re dancing, you don’t actually have to talk — you’re talking through your movements,” Stellina said. “If it’s a really slow and sad dance, your face tells it, and the audience can feel it. And if you’re really happy, you can play a really cheerful tune, and the audience can feel that you’re happy. I think that dance is a really good way to express yourself without using your voice.”

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Shelby Wagner - 1st Grade Teacher Fairmont Historic AnaheimTop Teacher & Skating Champion
Shelby “My favorite part of being a teacher is the children I get to teach.”
  • Is one of the head teachers for the Fountain Valley Artistic Skating Club, teaching regional and national champions. She also teaches beginner classes every Saturday morning.
  • Every year, her students are amazed to find that their teacher has a life outside of the classroom.
“I love feeling like I’m part of a family [at Fairmont].”
Keira Kamath - 5th Grade Fairmont Anaheim HillsScience & Tennis Superstar
keira “I like how there are so many different specialty classes at Fairmont Anaheim Hills, like art, music, PE, science lab, computer lab, and Spanish.”
  • She would like to be a professional tennis player when she grows up, or maybe a doctor.
  • Loves dance and plays the piano
  • Her favorite class is science “because you get to figure out stuff, and I like to do experiments.”
Nicholas Aghaian - 7th Grade Fairmont Historic AnaheimKicking His Way to Med School
nicolas“The teachers and the amount of support they provide to not only me, but to the whole entire community here at Fairmont is probably what I like most about attending Fairmont Historic Anaheim.”
  • He would like to be a professional soccer player, or a doctor specializing in the field of sports medicine.
  • Enjoys basketball, piano, and soccer pitch.
  • His favorite subject is math “because I like to be challenged, and math is full of challenges.”
Gianluca De Gregoris – 2nd Grade Fairmont North TustinDancing Toward Greatness
dancing"What I like most about Fairmont is that I get to learn and meet new friends.”
  • He wants to be a professional dancer when he grows up.
  • Is trained in ballet and ballroom dancing.
  • Loves writing and creating new stories.
Nicole Heyman - Kindergarten Teacher Fairmont Anaheim HillsLaying a Foundation for Lifelong Learning
Nicole "The best part about teaching at Fairmont is being able to work with a diverse group of students who are all incredibly talented. It is amazing to be able to challenge students at such a young age and watch these children grow throughout the year.”
  • Loves camping, reading, and traveling
  • Her students love learning random things about her – like the fact that when she was in kindergarten she wanted to be Spiderman when she grew up.
  • Her proudest moments are the times when a student on campus is excited to see her, oftentimes telling her that she’s “the best teacher in the world.” “I live for those moments.”
“I choose to teach at Fairmont because of the sense of community, as well as the drive for our students to succeed.”
DJ Clovis - Music Teacher Fairmont North TustinRunning to the Rhythm
DJ Clovis “I get to work with amazing staff, faculty, parents, and most importantly, students!”
  • Teaches music to all grades — from pre-kindergarten through 8th grade
  • Coaches (or has coached) football, basketball, and Run Club
  • Plays bass trombone
  • NJHS Conflict Resolution Coach
  • He has run 15 marathons and 4 ultra marathons.
“The best part of teaching at Fairmont is the autonomy — being able to create a program that fits all of my students. At Fairmont North Tustin, I get to help with a lot of different activities.”