SYDNEY, N.S.—A school board on Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island has banned school dances for students in Grades 6-8—a move that’s prompted hundreds of people to sign an online petition demanding the dances be reinstated.
The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board said yesterday its administration made the decision after moving from a junior high to middle-school grade configuration this school year.
Donnie Holland, acting co-ordinator of school services, said following a professional development session in the spring, officials decided there were better activity options to create a positive school climate that are more age-appropriate.
“It’s not so much that we’re saying dances are evil,” Holland said in a phone interview.
“We’re just saying that we’re trying a new philosophy with middle school, so let’s try some new approaches to building school spirit.”
Holland said Grade 6 students, who can be 10 and 11 years old, also may not be developmentally ready for the social pressures related to relationships that surround dances.
“We wanted to have activities that would be more developmentally appropriate; that would be more effective at creating a positive school climate, which is so critical to student achievement,” he reasoned.
The decision affects about 3,000 students in 15 schools, Holland noted.
The move has been met with some opposition in the community and has prompted an online petition, which had garnered more than 1,400 signatures by yesterday.
“Most kids are well-behaved and appropriate for their grade level,” the petition on Change.org said.
“Dances were always a fun, social place for kids to get together and be normal kids,” it noted.
Holland said the board has heard some negative feedback about the change, but there are many other parents who support it.
He said the board is welcoming comments from both sides.
“We want parents to have input,” Hollard stressed.
“The fact that they want to get involved and have their voice heard, that’s a positive, not a negative,” he remarked.