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Garfield Academy step team seeing success this year

CANTON — In only their second year, the Garfield Academy Swagg Steppers have more than doubled in size, and the team already has performed at several local public events, including a Canton Charge game and a local step competition. According to step team coach Lavetra Hampton, the co-ed team consists of approximately 18 fifth- through eighth-graders who enjoy the art of step dancing.

“The step team originally started from eight students performing in a school program at Garfield,” said Hampton, who also is a library aide at Garfield Academy. “The team expanded the following year and with more students joining the team, we were able to perform during halftime of a Canton Charge game. The middle school girls also performed during the Timken High School City-Wide Step Competition.”

Stepping, or step dancing, is a form of percussive dance in which the participant’s entire body is used as an instrument to produce complex rhythms and sounds through a mixture of footsteps, spoken word and hand claps. Though stepping may be performed by an individual, it is generally performed by groups of three or more, often in arrangements that resemble military formations.

“The team’s performance includes the students making claps and stomps into a constant beat, sometimes combined with chants and music,” Hampton said.

Renee Holt, an instructional aide at Garfield Academy and a coach for the team, said she is thrilled with how well the team is doing this year.

“The step team was very successful in the events they participated in,” she said. “The majority of the steppers are eighth-graders who are graduating this year. The team first performed in Garfield Academy's Black History Program and have participated in local events ever since. The team continues to practice daily in hopes of being invited to other competitions and events.”

Jessica Horner, EMIS/enrollment coordinator at Garfield Academy, said the squad is exciting to watch and she is looking forward to seeing the team grow.

“The steppers have really excelled under the leadership of Renee Holt and Lavetra Hampton and have had several opportunities to perform this year,” she said. “Their halftime performance at the Canton Charge game was really special.”

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If you’re interested in learning more about the school and would like to interview Maggie Ford, chief academic officer at White Hat Management, call 330-535-6868 or email

About the Academies:
Garfield Academy
1379 Garfield Ave. S.W.
Canton, OH 44706

The Academies are tuition-free community schools in Ohio providing a safe, disciplined and nurturing learning environment for students in kindergarten through eighth grades. Currently, there are 14 academies throughout Ohio — in Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Youngstown, with a new school opening in Lakewood in 2013. The Academies are a haven for parents caught between frustration with traditional public schools and the expense of private schools. When a child comes to The Academies, he or she enters a safe, clean, positive and caring environment built on respect. The Academies are committed to helping parents and children overcome obstacles so students can reach their full academic potential. For more information about The Academies, visit

About White Hat Management
White Hat Management contracts and assists nonprofit corporations that hold charters or see a need for a charter school in their community. White Hat Management operates 33 schools in three states under the auspices of two separate educational ventures. The Academies are tuition-free and are open to students in grades K-8 throughout the state of Ohio. Life Skills Centers are alternative education charter schools serving students between the ages of 16 and 21 in Ohio, Colorado and Arizona.

121 S. Main St.
Suite 200
Akron, OH 44308