Little dancer: Big honor

April 2016 Posted in Arts, Culture & History, People
Grace Traeger

Grace Traeger

By Melissa Wagoner

Grace Traeger has been a dedicated dancer since the age of three.

“What I like best about dance is that you get to be graceful and creative,” she said.

A fifth grader at Community Roots Montessori School, she recently received the Young Scholars award from the Oregon Association for Talented and Gifted (OATAG). The award is presented annually to a student in grades four through eight that has achieved excellence in the areas of leadership, performing arts, or academics.

Grace, who was recommended for the award by her teachers, school administrator, and dance instructor, is being recognized for excelling in all three areas. An accomplished dancer, performing with both the American Academy of Performing Arts Company in Silverton and the Eugene Ballet Company, she has volunteered with Pennies for Patients, a charity raising money for the leukemia and lymphoma society. Then, of course, there is always schoolwork.

“She is very smart and mature for her age,” Marta Hazekamp, the founder AAPAC said. “She has always been a bit of an old soul and has seen things from a different perspective. As she has grown older, she has become very determined and goal oriented; if she wants something she works for it.”

Grace’s teacher Susan Andree echoed these sentiments.

“As a student, I consider Grace one of the rare ‘renaissance learners,’ demonstrating a well-balanced curiosity and capability in all areas of learning. Regardless of the subject, whether it’s fractions, informational essays, or scientific experiments, Grace exemplifies a love of learning. Not everything comes easy for Grace, but she has a steady work ethic and perseveres through the challenges of learning with a positive attitude.”

Grace’s parents Matt, a carpenter and stay at home dad, and Jennifer, a teacher at Lincoln Elementary in Woodburn, are excited to see what the future holds.

“Grace loves ballet and has developed a future image of herself that includes a curiosity about dancing professionally before teaching in her own ballet school,” Jennifer said.

“Matt and I support her in figuring out how her efforts can affect this future image or any other future(s) that she imagines.”

Grace will be able to realize some of her goals this summer thanks to a scholarship that she receives as part the award.     

“I plan to attend Oregon Ballet Theatre’s Summer Intensive because it is a great opportunity to dance in a company school,” Grace said. She will also be attending the OATAG Conference with her teacher and mother as her guests.

Hazekamp said she will never forget the first time meeting Grace.  

“She was 3 or 4 years old and still had that cute toddler-way of talking, but yet she was pointing to my framed prints of famous art in the studio and telling me who they were by.”

When asked if she had any wisdom to share with other students Grace said, “If you do something wrong, don’t be mad at yourself, just practice it because it is a learning opportunity.”

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