Cornelia Jackson has loved to dance for as long as she can remember. Now, the Harlem teenager is teaching others how to dance.
A senior at Harlem High School, Cornelia decided to take a hobby she loved and turn it into a project for a senior assignment. In Columbia County, all high school seniors must complete a senior project and be graded before a panel of judges to whom they give a presentation.
Cornelia has worked during the past few months to turn a group of interested young women into an organized step team. She hopes her hard work will win the approval of judges when she gives a formal presentation of her efforts before the panel later this winter.
"I've been on a lot of step teams since I was in middle school," said Cornelia, the daughter of Rhonda Lillis, who is on a one-year deployment to Iraq. "When I heard we were going to do a senior project, that was what came to mind."
Cornelia is working with friends who also have some stepping experience to choreograph a routine for a team of youngsters who want to learn the dance technique.
"It's coming along good," said Cornelia, who serves as secretary of the school's Interact Club and is a member of the Brothers and Sisters United at Harlem High. "Right now we are just trying to organize the steps and everything," she said.
With five girls expressing an interest in being on the newly formed team, Cornelia has a greater plan to expand into a community team, an effort that extends well beyond her senior project.
"My main goal for my senior project is to have them be organized and be on point, but I really hope to turn it into a community team," said the A/B honor student. "I'm working with some girls from my church - Faith Outreach Christian Life Center in Hephzibah - to build a community step team."
Cornelia learned a lot of her moves when she was on the Fort Gordon Youth Services Step Team several years ago. That two-year involvement led her to love the dance even more, and she hopes that others will enjoy it as much as she has.
"I've been in talent shows with dancing," she said, "and it's always a lot of fun."
A wannabe talk-show host, Cornelia plans to attend Clayton State University in Morrow, Ga., to major in mass communications and public speaking after graduation in the spring.
If the talk-show host gig doesn't pan out, she said, she'll entertain a career in radio broadcasting.
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