New College Prep Program prepares dancers for college


Freshman Anna Webb, Freshman Grace Madigan, Junior Madison McFerren, Freshman Riley Humes, Junior Caitlin Kerrigan, Freshman Gabby Clark, Freshman Kaylee Copensphire, Junior Emily Mclauchlin, and Freshman Giovanna Ward sit out of side of St. Joseph’s Hall before ballet class. All nine students auditioned and were selected for the College Preparatory Dance Program.

Any day after school, you can find freshman Gabby Clark dancing in the studio in St. Joseph’s Hall. After these classes, or on the weekends, she can even be found in rehearsals for performances outside of school. Clark is one of nine students who auditioned and was selected to be in JC’s new college preparatory dance program.

According to the director of the dance program, Laura Ward-Moran, the program was started because JC was one of the only independent schools that did not offer dance. “I was told when they would have enrollment events, they saw that there was a need for a dance program because students were asking for it. Then, last year someone in the admissions team reached out to me about potentially starting a program,” Ward-Moran said.

The addition of dance program will hopefully make more students want to come to JC. Freshman Gabby Clark decided to come to JC for the opportunity. “I considered Notre Dame Prep. I was going to go there until this program [was started]. They don’t really have a program similar to this,” Clark said.

Ward-Moran created a unique program for advanced dancers at JC that differs from other area schools. “Other schools offer a dance experience, where each student has the opportunity to take dance as an elective. However, this is geared towards the serious dance student. It is set up like a performing arts school program, but in an academic setting,” Ward-Moran said.

From 3 to 4:30 pm daily, dancers learn ballet, modern, dance history, dance science, and dance composition as a graded academic course. According to Ward-Moran, this differs from a studio setting where students may only be getting ready for performances or competitions. She supports the work from their studios and wants her program to enhance what they learn there.

Dance is so much more than what one might believe it is.

— Laura Ward-Moran

“In a studio setting, they may not get everything that makes them competitive for the college atmosphere. We don’t focus on competitions or recitals or having to create dances for any particular event, so we are able to train five days a week, in predominantly ballet and modern technique,” Ward-Moran said.

According to freshman Giovanna Ward, the dancers are confident that they will be ready for a college dance setting. “It’s really gonna set us apart when we do go to the auditions for college and when we are in college because we’re setting a foundation here. We do projects and presentations, and college level dancing, our training is really rigorous,” Ward said.

The program is also a great way for students to participate in other activities, but still participate in a program included in tuition. “I just figured it’d be a good way to still be really involved in my school and be able to dance. There’s no way I could balance it if I wasn’t doing this program because the hours after school [at a studio] would be too much,” Ward said. 

Ward-Moran hopes the program will ultimately bring more awareness at JC to the academic side of dance. “Dance is so much more than what one might believe it is. There is a whole historical component to it, there’s science-based knowledge, there are medical professionals out there now practicing as doctors specifically doing work related to dancers…part of my job here is to create a program that creates awareness about the level of academics that dance involves and what that can do for these kids in terms of a future career path after college,” Ward-Moran said.

The dancers had their first performance in the auditorium on Saturday, Nov. 11 at 2 p.m. There were seven pieces of choreography, five of which were choreographed by Ward-Moran. The other two dances were set by guest choreographers, Carrie Euker and Ryan Bailey.

According to Clark, the show was a success. “I think it went really well. Everyone had a lot of fun and it was nice to show the school what we have been working on all year,” Clark said.

Madison Dailey is a Community Editor for The Patriot and