Oct 17th 01:05:03 PM
Student Spotlight: Paige Meile
By Jess Garbarino
One of the best things about working for BOKS HQ is hearing about how the program is improving the lives of students, trainers and communities – and every so often we are contacted by particular individuals whose BOKS stories are so special we feel compelled to share them.
Paige Meile is one of those individuals. This is Paige’s BOKS Star Story:
Our team first heard about Paige when her BOKS trainer Katherine Bitzas reached out to us with an email from Paige’s mom Michelle. From this email, we quickly realized Paige was no ordinary student – so we packed our bags and drove down to CT to meet this young girl who had repotedly been so transformed by BOKS.
When I first shook Paige’s hand my first thought was, “I must’ve gotten her age wrong,” she is so well spoken and assertive I though she must be in one of our middle school programs not elementary. But I was wrong. Paige is just 10 years old and has just entered the fourth grade – yet her presence is much more mature and graceful than that of an average 10 year old. I’m instantly impressed by her.
I met Paige and her mom Michelle at Paige’s favorite place – her Irish Step Dance Studio, Scoil Rince Luimni (translates to Limerick School of Dance) – to talk to her about her experience with BOKS.
Michelle painted a picture for me of who Paige was before BOKS, which was a stark contrast to the young woman sitting down next to me. “Paige was so shy and so anxious about school that we actually had to home school her for two years. She even thought about quitting Irish Step dancing which she loves so much,” said Michelle. “BOKS became the way we got Paige to go to school in the morning.”
By attending BOKS at Munger Hill School in Westfield MA, Paige was able to make friends, gain confidence, channel her competitive spirit and most transformatively, she learned to love fitness. Physically, Paige lost 35 lbs doing BOKS, but her transformation goes far beyond that, “she learned that she loves the way she feels when she’s active and healthy,” said Michelle while sharing some of Paige’s before and after photos with me.
After talking with Paige I got the opportunity to watch her Irish Step Dance. She spends almost 8 hours a week at this studio practicing what she and her mom describe as “her thing.” I asked Paige what she loves most about dance – to which she replied, “everything.”
I learned a lot documenting Paige’s class. Irish Step isn’t for the faint of heart – it’s physically demanding and takes a tremendous amount of mental stregth to memorize and coordinate each and every step to fast-paced music.
Paige is dynamic. She dances with her head held high and pushes herself beyond what her teacher demands of her. It’s hard to believe that such a talented individual had at one point thought about quitting something she clearly loves so much.
“Paige is a leader now,” added Michelle. In fact, Paige wants to be come a BOKS “leader in training” to help her younger sister (who seems to be shy like Paige once was) get to BOKS in the morning.
I reached out to Paige’s BOKS trainers, Katherin Bitzas and Sue Pederson, who added, "Paige has been an inspiration us. Hearing how BOKS has helped her makes us even more determined to reach out to as many kids as possible"
“BOKS is awesome,” Paige added before lacing up her step shoes and enterting her dance class for the third time that week.