Baltimore, M.d., Tuesday, February 25 – This Saturday, 24 Baltimore teens representing Cristo Rey Jesuit High School (CRJ) will compete in the World of Step Regional Convention at Howard University.
The competition is fierce. They’ll face teams from 13 other states, some who have been featured on national television, for a chance at one of three invitations to compete in the World of Step International Convention.
CRJ students don’t have a practice studio, and most of the time the gym is booked for other sports or community events, but that doesn’t stop them from staying after school every day. For two hours every afternoon, the third floor hallway becomes their de-facto practice space. Leading up to the competition, they’ve been meeting for four hours each Saturday, too.
When asked about the upcoming competition, Step Team member Zach ‘20 shared, “This competition is all about that feeling of hard work paying off. We’re putting all of it on stage to show everyone that Cristo Rey comes to win.”
Rae Dickens, the ninth and tenth grade math teacher at CRJ, coaches the Step Team. Dickens is a 10 year veteran teacher at CRJ. When asked about her team, Rae shared, “I hope they are learning about commitment, that they can take risks, and that they’re building their self esteem.” She added that, “Winning championships after all that hard work is rewarding, but it doesn’t matter if we win or lose because we are a family.”
The World of Step International Convention will be held later this year in New York City and will host teams from as far away as West Africa. World of Step is an organization dedicated to the mission of providing an international platform on the art, culture, history and impact of the art form of stepping.
CRJ, located in the Upper Fells Point neighborhood, serves more than 340 students in grades 9 through 12 from all across Baltimore City. Though it is known for its four-year corporate internship program, the school also offers a variety of athletic programs in addition to step. The school’s Varsity Men’s Basketball team recently won their second, back-to-back, MIAA “C” Conference Championship game, beating out Park School 58-50.
Eric Toedtman, CRJ’s Athletic Director, shared, “we encourage the importance of success in the classroom and on the court as we know it will carry over to the game of life.” Zach ‘20 echoed that sentiment, sharing that stepping has “given me more drive as a student and a person…to step out of my comfort zone and push my limits.”