A 17-year-old senior, Racquel Charles won one of only six Reflections Outstanding Interpretation awards from the National Parent Teacher Association.
Winners were selected from hundreds of thousands of entries from students across the U.S. and from European schools for military families.
This year’s theme was “Diversity Means…”. Raquel won the award for her entry that she titled “True Colors,” which is also the title of the song, performed by the cast of the FOX network television show “Glee.”
A mixture of hip-hop and jazz, the performance begins with her friend and fellow dancer, Tija Paisley, reading a book when Racquel approaches her.
“I was playing the popular girl, my friend was the lonely person in school,” Racquel said of the performance. “We come together to show that different styles could get together. She’s shy at first, then she’s able to show her true colors.”
Her mother, Tawana Montgomery, said both she and daughter Shakeya Robinson are very proud of Racquel’s accomplishments.
“I used to dance in my youth and I think she’s taking over where I left off,” Robinson said. “It’s exciting to see her progress in that area.”
Racquel, captain of her high school dance team, said she has been dancing since she was 3 years old, training in tap, jazz, ballet and gymnastics and is also a self-taught hip-hop dancer.
She said she plans to attend the University of South Florida in the fall to major in psychology and minor in dance.
“It’s my dream to become a professional choreographer and dancer,” Raquel said.
Racquel has been a backup dancer and singer for several Atlanta artists, but took over the spotlight when she released her first single “Live 2 Dance” on iTunes last year.
For her senior project, Racquel also choreographed and performed in her own dance showcase and raised over $900 to raise awareness for cystic fibrosis.
“I was happy to be able to donate to a family friend who is a fighter and survivor of cystic fibrosis,” she said.
Her project facilitator and dance coach Aaron Robinson, a special education teacher at Sequoyah, said he has been able to see Racquel blossom as a dancer.
“She really has come a long way,” Robinson said. “She’s a great leader and I know she’s a hard worker in the classroom, too. She’s just a really phenomenal girl.”
Racquel said she didn’t expect to win the national award and was happily surprised when she found out she was selected.
“It makes me feel more confident in myself,” she said. “It’s a really awesome feeling to know that people support what I dream.”
Along with Racquel, five other students will be recognized during a ceremony at the 116th Annual National PTA Convention and Exhibition in June in San Jose, Calif. They each will receive a certificate, medallion and $800. An award of $200 will be presented to each of these winners’ local PTA.
To see Racquel’s winning performance, senior project showcase and other performances, visit her website www.racquelcharles.com or her YouTube page, www.youtube.com/live2dance100.