Correction: An earlier version of this story said that Sasha Obama takes hip-hop classes at CityDance. According to a spokeswoman for first lady Michelle Obama, she is no longer enrolled in the school.


CityDance Conservatory Students Lara Segrillo and Leonardo Moraes (Theo Kossenas/Media 4 Artists)

At the White House on Tuesday, first lady Michelle Obama doled out awards to after-school arts programs, including the DREAM program at CityDance.

CityDance, a Bethesda-based dance conservatory that offers after-school programs in six Washington elementary schools, was one of 12 groups to receive the 2015 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards.

After a welcome from Obama and a speech by a young poet from Savannah, Ga., a teacher and student from each program took turns accepting their $10,000 awards and getting a hug from the first lady. Obama lingered when Kelly Quinn, director of the CityDance DREAM program, and her student Valeria Cruz came forward.

“She said she really liked my dress,” Valeria said, blushing a bit after the ceremony. “And she said it was great that we’re from right here in D.C.”

Valeria’s story was just as inspiring as the other students’. She was in middle school when her grades started slipping below the minimum to participate in DREAM. “That’s when we started adding tutoring to our program,” Quinn said.

Valeria is now a senior at Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School in Northeast and applying to colleges. In the words of the first lady, she’s part of “the next generation of fabulous.”

“You guys made my day, and I got all these hugs on top of it,” Obama said.

Ritzel is a freelance writer.