Swing dancing is not the dance of choice for most high schoolers.
But for Catonsville High School juniors Rachel Albert and Hannah Lane, it's more than just a favorite dance — it's a way of life.
Albert and Lane were awarded the school's first Comet Leader Awards Friday, March 15, for their work creating, maintaining and growing the school's first ballroom dance club.
The award is part of the Create section of the school's "Be your best. Do your best. Create the best." initiative.
Catonsville Vice Principal Eric Eiswert said the initiative came about as a way to recognize students in moral, academic and philanthropic categories tied to the "Be", "Do" and "Create" titles, respectively.
Previously, he said, the school's focus was less on emphasizing successes and more on reprimanding wrongdoing.
"We didn't reward kids for doing good things," Eiswert said.
That reward, in the form of a plaque and a Target gift card, caught both Albert and Lane by surprise
The girls had been told to go to the school library early Friday morning, where a crowd that included the vice principal, the club sponsor, several teachers and Albert's parents were waiting.
"We wanted it to be a big deal," Eiswert said.
When Albert and Lane walked into the library, their stunned looks were apparent to everyone.
"I was coming down here wondering what the heck I did," Lane said to the group after the ceremony. "Thank you guys so much."
Lane said the club began after she joined Albert for an open dance night last spring at the Mobtown Ballroom, a dance hall on Washington Boulevard in the Pigtown section of southwest Baltimore.
"We became friends when I took her dancing," said Albert, who frequents Mobtown Ballroom.
The idea to create the club came later in the spring when the two decided they wanted to create a club to promote a more formal, structured style of dancing.
"I went to homecoming and I was kind of grossed out," Albert said. "I thought I would learn to dance for real."
"Doing something other than grinding on someone," Lane added.
"I don't know what's happened to dance," she said. "It's not fun, it's not impressive."
Stumble on first steps
After much collaboration and planning, the duo had their first club meeting in the fall of 2012.