Elite Dancer Isabella Martinez Balances School and Competition with Independent Study PE



“The most gratifying part of being a student and a serious athlete is the ability of being responsible because you spend a whole day at [school] learning and then begin learning or practicing something totally different when you come home,”  Isabella Martinez about her role as an eighth grade independent studies physical education dance student at Bernardo Yorba Middle School.                                    

Isabella practices over twelve hours of dance every week, both at The Art of Dance and Ballet Academy in Placentia and at her house. Independent Studies P.E. helps because it allows her to leave school after her sixth period. Due to that fact, Isabella has more time to work on homework earlier  instead of working on it late at night and stressing about it.

None the less, being a student and a highly ranked athlete is a balancing act, “The most difficult aspect is not getting enough sleep every night,” stated Isabella.

Along with Isabella, only nine other BYMS students qualify for being able to have the opportunity to do independent studies P.E.  In order to qualify you must show, “Evidence that the student is engaged in a preparation program for national or Olympic – level competition,” as reported in the Administrative Regulation of the Placentia Yorba Linda Unified School District . 

Students applying for independent studies P.E. must also have multiple statements including, “Outlining the student’s reasons for requesting Independent Study, students mid-year and end- of -year goals, listing the daily activities by which the student will achieve the listed goals, and finally the name, title, and qualifications of each coach, trained specialist, or the instructor who will provide instruction,” mentioned in the Independent Study Administrative Regulation. 

Isabella is also required to have, “A file that must include a copy of all contracts pertaining to the student, a completed Activity Log, Performance Evaluation Reports and must maintain a record of no less than 2.0 overall unweighted grade point average or in other words (GPA),” as stated in the Administration Regulation.

 Moreover, in order to stay in independent studies P.E Isabella is required to have, “A pass or fail grade issued by the principal’s designee and that decision is based upon an evaluation of the information supplied by the student’s coach, instructor or trained specialist,”explained the Placentia- Yorba Linda Unified School District.

Enrolling in independent studies  doesn’t necessarily mean the student has extra “free time.”

  “When I get home from dance, I usually get home at 9:00pm, and I have to get all of my homework done when I’m tired and it’s late,’’ Isabella stated. Isabella has been participating in dance since she was fifteen months old and is associated with The Art of Dance and Ballet Academy. 

Isabella competes or is associated with a variety of dance forms including.  hip hop, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, musical theater and modern ballet . 

 On top of her many hours of dance practice, she also participates in many elite level competitions and her  most beloved competitions are Star Systems, Countdown, KAR and Velocity.  Many of Isabella’s competitions are either as a solo dancer or as a part of a larger competitive group .

As an elite dancer, Isabella has won more than 100 awards in all of her years participating in dance. She has won awards in Star Systems , Jump, Velocity, Bella Moxi, KAR, Spotlight, That’s Dancin’, Thunderstruck and Countdown.