The director of the Fordney Foundation, Marilyn Fordney, was a graduate of Bishop Conaty-Our Lady of Loretto High School, Class of 1954. Recently, she connected with Jessica Fagerstrom, the Performing Arts Teacher at the high school who is a professional theatre educator and director. She invited Marilyn to visit her Alma Mater and meet with the students of the newly established ballroom dance class. This all-girls high school was founded in 1923 and Marilyn’s mother and her mother’s older sister attended the school during the 1930s as well as Marilyn’s three younger sisters. They all graduated from this private all-girls high school. The original name was Los Angeles Catholic Girls High School. In 1994, it was officially renamed Bishop Conaty–Our Lady of Loretto High School. It has a current enrollment of 311 students. The mission of this school is to provide a quality, affordable, comprehensive, college preparatory Catholic education to young women in central Los Angeles. The school strives to instill in students a lifelong commitment to learning, Christian values, responsible citizenship, and community service.
On Tuesday, February 12, 2019, Marilyn and her husband, Alex Havasi, drove to Los Angeles to visit Jessica and her students. Upon arrival, Jessica greeted them and took them to meet Principal Andrea Jenoff and the Development Director, Diane Techam. Jessica gave them an updated tour of the school that ended at the classroom to meet the 11 students in the dance class. This is the first year of a dance course that began in August of 2018 and the initial dances studied have been ballet, hip hop, contemporary/modern, contra dance, English country dance, Victorian dance, Salsa, and Ballroom.
Marilyn feels that the courses at Bishop Conaty give students a strong educational foundation and this prepared her for the job market when she attended. Immediately upon graduation, she was able to work in a physician’s office as a back office medical assistant and medical transcriptionist. After work, she attended medical terminology classes and also went to ballet classes. She spoke to the students about her lifelong passion for dance and shared knowledge about American and International styles of ballroom dance in the social as well as competitive settings. She passed around photographs taken when she competed in Pro-AM dance competitions and also brought a pair of the ballroom dance shoes with the suede soles that act as antiskid when dancing. At the end of her speech, she answered questions posed by the dance students. During the balance of the semester, the students will be looking at different international dance traditions from different countries. She told them to go to the Fordney Foundation website: www.fordneyfoundation.org to gain additional knowledge related to the assignments. Marilyn concluded her visit by telling the students to keep the skill of dance and the love of music in their lives to bring their spirits up to go in a positive direction during the difficult times in their lives. In March, Marilyn Fordney will be a keynote speaker at Conaty on International Women’s Day.
At the present time, these students are preparing to perform in “Annie Jr.” that will take place at Bishop Conaty on April 4 (6:30 pm), April 5 (6:30 pm), and April 6 (2:30 pm; 6:30 pm). Tickets are $5 for Bishop Conaty students, $7 for General Admission, and can be purchased here:
**We have received contributions from individuals who would like to have a dear relative or friend who passed on remembered that loved to dance or was a dance aficionado. We call these memorial contributions. Perhaps you would like to have someone memorialized in this manner. Make a donation and give us their name. We will soon put on our website a yellow brick road to add their name to a brick as a memorial to that person. This contribution will assist future generations of dancers and help keep young people more positive and healthy.
Thought Of The Week:
You are infinitely blessed if you believe you are – Margaret Ann Lembo