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Sandy Journal

Altara students have a ball at the hop

Mar 08, 2023 04:48PM ● By Julie Slama

After learning 1950’s dances in class, second-graders dress up in poodle skirts and white T-shirts to jive and twist on Valentine’s Day. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

Poodle skirts, leather jackets, white T-shirts, bobby socks and some good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll— that’s what every sock hop needs and Altara second-graders didn’t disappoint.

At their traditional Valentine’s sock hop, the students paid homage to the 1950s doing the hand jive and The Twist. They also danced common novelty dances from the time period such as the Chicken Dance, Hokey Pokey and the Bunny Hop.

While they didn’t have to put a nickel in the jukebox, these youngsters where a twistin’ and a rockin’ before finishing their 45-minute dance with frosted cookies and root beer floats.

While sock hops became popular in the 1950s when teens would dance informally after taking off their shoes so they wouldn’t scratch schools’ wooden gym floors, it’s documented that sock hops were held in the mid-1940s by the American Jr. Red Cross to help raise funds during World War II.

At Altara, the sock hops date back about 30 years, said Kristine Larson, who has taught second grade at the school for 27 years.

“The teachers before me started it,” she said. “We used to teach a little dance portion in PE before we had brain boosters (class rotations in elementary schools that include subjects such as PE, library, computers/STEM, arts). Now, we teach them a song in our morning meetings or during our brain breaks.”

She said students look forward to the tradition every year, learning about it from their older siblings or neighbors. Besides learning movement and dance skills, and a little pop culture, Larson said they’re also learning social skills.

“The kids have fun dressing up ’50’s style and many of them borrow outfits from their older brothers, sisters or neighbors,” she said. “It’s a party every year.”