The children at Hopi Elementary donned their cowboy hats and boots in early December and headed to school to participate in Western Day, a celebration of square dancing and music that has taken place at the school for the past four years.
“Western Day started about 20 years ago at Anasazi Elementary School where Karen Derkach and I first taught Physical Education together,” said P.E. teacher Tim Marriott. “We started teaching square dance and line dancing as part of our curriculum and then decided that it would be fun to showcase our talents in front of our fellow students and parents and turn it into a show.”
Marriott said that the performance began as a way to celebrate Western heritage in Scottsdale and Arizona, and that they try to hold the event around the time of the Parada del Sol held in Old Town Scottsdale. This year, the performances were put together with the help of music teacher Janet Fredrick, P.E. teacher Jennifer Lee and art teacher Valerie Conti.
“When Karen and I transferred to Hopi about five years ago, we wanted to continue the tradition of cowboy dancing, but also saw and welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with the other special area teachers to make the performance bigger, better and more inclusive,” said Marriott.
The Hopi Western Day tradition is a show that includes dancing, singing cowboy songs and creating Western-themed artwork to put on display for fellow students, parents and the community.
“The purpose/goal is to have fun, learn the songs and dances, perform for a crowd, celebrate our Western roots and collaborate as a special team on a common goal,” said Marriott.
The kindergarten through fifth grade classes practice for two to three weeks to prepare.
This year, the kindergarten classes sang Tony the Pony and She’ll be Comin’ Round the Mountain. The fourth and fifth grade songs were Can-can/Buffalo Gals and Crawdad Hole.
“I like the dancing because it’s fun and fun to learn too,” said third-grader King Reasy.
“It brings joy to me because I love to sing and dance,” said third-grader Avery Heinricks.
Parents were welcome to come out at specific times during the day to watch their kids perform, and a rootin’, tootin’ good time was had by all.