Don O'Connell is no stranger to Piedmont.
From 1975 through 1981, he was a Havens Elementary physical education teacher when he was "discovered" at the annual Folk Dance Festival held at Havens in the spring.
"Apparently word spread that I knew something about disco, and in 1977 I was asked to become the teacher for the Piedmont seventh-grade class," said O'Connell. He's been dancing with the young stars ever since.
"The first few years I taught the class, the emphasis was very traditional — both music and dance," he said. "However, as disco became more popular, the parents and certainly the students wanted the classes to be more upbeat and contemporary. I changed the music and began to teach a wider variety of dances, including line dances and disco swing."
This year, 131 Piedmont Middle School students are enrolled in the seventh-grade social dance class. Students learn the the basics of ballroom dancing, including the classics such as the fox trot, waltz, disco, Latin and swing. Students observe a dress code (slacks, jackets and ties for the boys; skirts and blouses or dresses for the girls) and follow the rules of etiquette. The girls are no longer required to wear white gloves.