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Philadelphia Students Take Part In Ballroom Dance Competition

by John McDevitt

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Some Philadelphia school children participating in a Ballroom Dancing competition learned more than just dance steps on Tuesday.

After 2 1/2 months of ballroom dancing lessons, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students form Muñoz-Marin School in the Fairhill section of North Philadelphia competed in "Dancing With The Stars of Marin."

Families and friends came to cheer them on as the couples danced the Waltz, Swing, Meringue, and the Tango with judges keeping a close eye.

When it was time for the awards, the best overall dancers were couple #59.

"The dance instructor told me if you are worried just smile bigger. My mom and grandma came here and they made me smile. Bigger," said student Naashia Donaldson of the winning couple.

"At first I didn't want to, but she didn't have a partner so I had to go with her. Now I feel cool with her," said 11-year-old Edwin Acosta, Naashia's dance partner.

"Organizers say 10 weeks ago, when these kids started, they didn't even want to get into their dance positions, they didn't want to touch one another, they were 'yucky,' but with a little practice they got over it," said Susan Martinelli Shea, president and founder of the non-profit organization "Dancing with the Students."

"We all stress good manners, good body language, confidence, and we turn boys and girls into ladies and gentlemen," she said.

"I learned all four dances, I learned that standing near boys or girls isn't nasty or yucky, but it's all about having fun," said Naashia.

The Dancing With The Students program is in 15 area schools.

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