By Colleen Sparks
The Camelback High School dance director and teacher is getting a boost to keep her students on their toes and in costumes when they perform.
Heidi Wright recently received a $5,000 grant from the Fiesta Bowl organization and its Fiesta Bowl Charities Wishes for Teachers program, powered by DriveTime. She was among 200 teachers around the state selected for the grant, including Camelback High School’s Cindee Badalamente, a counselor.
Wright will use the money to buy costumes for her students for their concert in April. One costume can cost up to $70 but Wright says many of her students live in poverty, making it difficult for them to afford to buy costumes on their own. She is passionate about giving her students a chance to perform in costumes in a professional setting.
“Our shows are very professional and it’s because of all the fundraising I do with my kids,” she said. “They dance on a real stage in a real costume. The really amazing thing is that I’m a product of public education dance. I grew up with a single mom. I love teaching and I love dance.”
The Camelback Elite Dance Company recently won first place in varsity dance intermediate at the Cheer for Charity (CFC) Championship Arizona.
All dance students at Camelback High will perform in the “Storyteller” 2019 Winter Showcase at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 12, and Friday, Dec. 13, at the school at 4612 North 28th St. The school’s dance program teaches students ballet, jazz, modern, contemporary and hip-hop styles.
Wright also is the assistant cheer coach and an advisor for the Participatory Budgeting Committee, through which students get a voice in how money is spent on campus. She is working on her second master’s degree and is in her 10th year as a teacher. Wright began her teaching career in South Korea and worked at other schools in the Valley before coming to Camelback High.