DUNLAP — When upbeat music blared through the speakers, local life skills students broke out dancing like nobody was watching.

Nearly 150 secondary school students across Elkhart County attended Concord High School’s Life Skills Christmas Dance held in the school’s lecture room on Tuesday.

Students from Goshen, Northridge, NorthWood, Fairfield, Jimtown and the Elkhart County Special Education Cooperative joined the Concord High School class for an afternoon that included a catered lunch, followed by pictures in a photo booth and dancing.

The annual dance is hosted by Concord High School’s Student Council Members and is exclusively for life skills students.

Life Skills’ Program is a specialized placement for students with significant intellectual disabilities who need opportunities to develop functional academic skills; along with, skills that they will need in everyday life such as self-care, vocational, functional reading and math, money management, self-advocacy, independence and others.

CHS student Genevieve Carreno, a senior adviser for the Life Skills’ program, said the purpose of the dance is to provide students with special needs a holiday celebration and to help them feel accepted and included.

“This dance provides life skills students a chance to see new people outside their class of 10 in a school,” said Carreno “It’s about them having a normal experience as human beings because they’re in the same classroom with the same people every single day and may not get this experience at home so it’s a chance for them to feel included to be able to celebrate something that’s just for them.”

Rebekah Watson, director of special education for Concord Community Schools, the dance is something the students look forward to each year because it provides them an opportunity to meet and interact with other students in the area.

“They’re just doing the things that teenagers like to do – dancing, socializing with peers while also making new friends,” she said.

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