Over the past 36 years, The Wooden Floor has impacted the lives of over 95,000 students. Reading the stories of our current students and alumni inspires us to move forward, together with our community, to make the dreams of more children possible.
Learn about the various ways you can support their 10-year journeys at The Wooden Floor.
Ian, Class of 2022
Hector, Class of 2019
Alexia, Class of 2019
Maria, Class of 2027
Jocelyn, Class of 2019
Cristina, Class of 2016
Alfredo, Class of 2012
Xitlalli, Class of 2022
Lizbeth, Class of 2022
“Dance feels like my gateway to heaven. It satisfies me, and I always feel at peace, like I don’t need anything else in the world.
Co-creating dance takes teamwork and creativity. You have to put your minds together to create something that no one has ever seen before. It is a process of a lot of trial and error. You make movement you’ve never done before, mix them into something new, sometimes you do not like the result, throw stuff out, and that’s the whole point! Dance teaches you to make fresh ideas and to move onward. In life sometimes things can’t always stay the way you like, so you have to learn to adapt.
In the world of dance, you can sometimes hear that you need longer legs, longer arms, or better shaped feet. My teachers at The Wooden Floor taught me that you don’t need that at all. As long as I have the passion and the heart, I can be a professional dancer. The Wooden Floor was my gateway to the world of dance. It opened me to a career that I never thought would be for me. My teachers here have taught me to be confident and to be proud of what I do, because I should be proud of what I love.”
– Ian, Class of 2022
Ian has been a student of The Wooden Floor since he was eight years old. He was accepted into the San Francisco Ballet School Summer Session for the 2018 and 2019 summer as well as the Royal Ballet School Summer Intensive in London for the 2019 summer, with the goal of becoming a more well-rounded dancer. Ian attends Orange County School of the Arts for the Classical and Contemporary Dance and has a 4.0 GPA. He admires his older brother Brandon who graduated from The Wooden Floor and is the first in their family to attend college.
“When I’m on stage, time stops. It feels great. I know I am going to be the art form. I am the painting or exhibit when you walk into the museum. I get to show the world what I’ve got.
Without a doubt, The Wooden Floor has changed my life for the better, offering me a love for dance, numerous support systems, and incredible opportunities. The opportunity to seek what I want to accomplish in life, to overcome obstacles, and to dream. To dream of my ability to do anything I may set my mind to. As the motto goes, ‘From here, you can step anywhere.’” – Hector, Class of 2019
Hector graduated high school with a 4.0 GPA and currently majors in mechanical engineering at Cal Poly Pomona.
“I would not be anywhere near the path I’m on right now if it were not for The Wooden Floor.
The most important thing I learned here is that there are different ways of expressing yourself, not on paper, not with words, but through movement. I could not have ever learned that in school. The Wooden Floor has also taught me a lot about prioritizing and helped me realize what I want to do with my life.
When I was in the eighth grade, The Wooden Floor had an opportunity for students to go to UCI’s robotics camp, and I took it! There was a special scholarship for The Wooden Floor students. For two weeks, I learned about robotics and how to code. I was able to meet a lot of new people and come up with projects, where what I saw in my head was able to come to life. I see art in coding, and I see coding when I dance. They aren’t binary, they are fluid.
I don’t think my mom could have pictured me going to a four-year university. It would have had to be a miracle. Now it is possible for me to go out of state, maybe even to one of the top schools in the country, and I don’t think my parents saw this coming. The biggest challenge I faced was the unknown. I knew I loved computer science, but I had no idea where to go, and no idea how to achieve it. Getting the help from The Wooden Floor has made it achievable.
The Wooden Floor offers kids like me a safe place to find themselves, love the people around them, and find a way to express themselves. It is not a dance program, it is an “everything you’ll need for life” program. It’s a game changer.” – Alexia, Class of 2019
Alexia graduated with a 4.1 GPA and credited The Wooden Floor’s tutoring program, and college and career readiness programs with helping her achieve her college dreams. Alexia currently attends UC Riverside, majoring in computer engineering.
“Being here is relaxing and you can come out of your stress. Sometimes you can meet new friends who you can invite to your house for a sleepover.
Something I learned here is how the body works. Your muscles get better and can do more stuff. Once my teacher brought a skeleton to class. She showed us about the bones, and some of them I did not know about.
I want to go to college because I want to become a ballerina and a doctor.” – Maria, Class of 2027
Maria has been at The Wooden Floor for two years and plans to be the first in her family to go to college. She currently attends Jim Thorpe Fundamental Elementary School and has a 3.0 GPA.
“I use the creativity that I have developed in dance class when I need to create something for a school project. What I’ve learned while creating dance isn’t all that different from what I have to do for school. I use that same mindset, where I’m able to create something with purpose and intention.
One of my memories that stands out from my 10 years at The Wooden Floor is from a class where we sat in a circle and just talked about our day. That conversation lead to advice about the future and reassurance about what to do when you’re facing a tough time in your life. I love that I was able to talk about these questions and be able to hear honestly how we will face the future ahead.
The Wooden Floor is family. Here, students are able to have support emotionally and academically.” – Jocelyn, Class of 2019
Jocelyn is entering her 2nd year of community college and hopes to transfer to California State University, Long Beach to major in Design. Her dream is to travel abroad to finish her design program or to teach English. Jocelyn’s brother Anthony, who also graduated from The Wooden Floor, is the first in their family to attend college.
“The lessons that I learned here at The Wooden Floor extend beyond the dance studio and can be applied to life. They helped me do well in high school, and I know that they will help me through college and beyond. I am attending UCLA and pursuing a degree in nursing. I am one of 13 siblings. One of my sisters has cerebral palsy, and she is the inspiration behind my decision to pursue a career in nursing. This is something that I am passionate about and with hard work and dedication, I am confident I will achieve.” – Cristina, Class of 2016
Cristina was named valedictorian of her high school class, and currently attends the University of California, Los Angeles.
“At The Wooden Floor, I learned that creativity and having your own way of portraying your personality can help set you apart from others. The great amounts of fun I had during Annual Concert season also helped me build more team working skills.
I was not the first in my family to attend college, but I was the first to graduate with a bachelor’s degree. The Wooden Floor prepared me for college and encouraged me to finish.” – Alfredo, Class of 2012
Alfredo graduated from California State University, Fullerton in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. He is currently an Electrical Engineer with DHS Consulting. After gaining work experience, he plans to go to graduate school.
“As I start high school this fall, the thing I know foremost is that The Wooden Floor has really helped me. My parents hoped that by being here, I would be more social. I had to learn how to start talking to other people, and The Wooden Floor helped me think about how to accomplish that. Everyone cares so much about each person that comes here and their well-being.
If I wasn’t at The Wooden Floor, my life would be a totally different story. I wouldn’t really be thinking as much about my future as I do right now. Here, you really learn how to talk to each other. Before, if someone said “hi” to me, I would just turn and walk the other way. I wouldn’t have known the part of me who loves to dance and loves other people. This isn’t the ballet tutu pink thing, its modern dance, which really is different. It makes me really think – about my body, the space around me, myself as a human being, and ask myself spiritual, deep questions. In modern dance, our teacher asks us to just breathe and just be, to find connectedness, to look at our fellow dancers in the eye. I could never do that before. When talking to a person, if you don’t look them in the eyes, it doesn’t feel the same, you don’t connect. I’ve learned how to connect with others better. It has taken me 15 years, but I did it.” – Xitlalli, Class of 2022
Xitlalli is entering Foothill High School as an 11th grader with a 3.6 GPA. The Wooden Floor’s Middle School Program supports our students’ academic and social-emotional transition to 9th grade, providing foundational support for success in high school, college, and beyond. Empowerment Workshops guide our students through two key transitions: from 5th into 6th grade, to focus students on closing the academic achievement gap during middle school, and from 8th into 9th grade, to ensure successful social-emotional transition to high school.
“When I started at The Wooden Floor, I thought it would be super strict and that technique was the most important thing. But then, they taught me that how you’re feeling and how you express yourself are much more important. Dance helped me express myself in a way that I didn’t think I could. It was a feeling I never felt. I could just let myself go.
I have health struggles, and The Wooden Floor has been a kind of physical therapy for me. My classes are weekly and consistent. My mom always tells me that she gets scared for me, but, for some reason, I never get scared. Dance helped with that attitude. Sometimes movements can make you fall, but if you don’t think about it too much and just do it from your heart, you’ll succeed—and it might look really cool!
Here everyone is really accepting about differences. I had to have surgery and take six months off. When I came back, everyone was so welcoming. We know that we’re all different and we celebrate that by bringing everyone together.” – Lizbeth, Class of 2021