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Living in a virtual world: Technology allows traditions to continue despite distancing

Ryan Zaleski with daughters, from left, Reagan, 4, Reese 2, and Avery, 6, participated in Living Water Church’s annual Daddy Daughter Dance on May 1, which was available online this year.

Joe Combs and his daughter, Annabelle, 9, were among about 50 who kept the Daddy Daughter Dance tradition alive thanks to Living Water Church hosting the annual event via Zoom and Facebook.


The show must go on.

For the past five years, Living Water Church’s Daddy Daughter Dance has served as an event for girls in grades K-8 and their fathers to plan a fun memorable time together – and, incidentally, the young dancers also enjoy dressing up and spending time with friends.

Thanks to technology, the church was able to keep the tradition alive this year during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis while following the state’s Stay at Home order and social distancing guidelines.

Later this month, Dalton High School plans to join other high schools and universities with a virtual commencement ceremony that people will be able to watch on their electronic devices through a live stream.

Dad and daughter day

Fathers and their daughters dressed up on May 1 as they had planned, and danced and greeted friends like they anticipated they would — but all from their living rooms.

About 50 people participated between a call via Zoom and a feed through Facebook. Mainly, dad and daughter combos lit up screens, but every year stepfathers, uncles, and grandfathers are all invited to accompany the girls.

Typically, the dance is hosted at the church, and people are invited from the surrounding area – from Wooster to Massillon – to join.

“This dance provides dads and daughters from grades K-8 to have a special night together that includes games, light refreshments, dancing, and giveaways,” Sara Taylor, Student Ministry Coordinator, wrote in an email. “The dance also serves as a fundraiser for our Senior High student ministry to raise funds for our annual summer mission trip. Our Student Ministry small group leaders and students volunteer with this dance to help make the event run smoothly for the dads and daughters. Each year has a different theme and our students help us decorate. It’s a fun group effort and we love seeing how excited the girls are when they walk through our doors and they see how we have decorated our church for them.”

This year’s mission trip has been postponed to keep students safe amid the uncertainty surrounding the spread of COVID-19.

“We have around 200 people attend our event each year, so we were pretty disappointed that we couldn’t put on this annual event this year,” Taylor continued. “After hearing that some dads were still planning to do something special for their daughters at home in place of the dance, we decided to put our heads together to bring the dance online.”

Many of the girls who attend the dance get their dresses well in advance, Taylor said.

“A fun part of the dance that we all look forward to is when the girls come bounding into the dance, find their friends, and giggle and admire each other’s dresses,” Taylor wrote in the email. “We wanted to still give the girls the opportunity to see each other, so we decided to do a “Zoom dance floor” so everyone could say hi and we could still do some giveaways based on who uploaded a picture to our event page on Facebook. Another staple of our dance is the daddy dance off, where the dads compete in a dancing competition and we crown a winner and give them a prize. The Zoom dance floor allowed us to still have this dance off and helped make this online dance feel like just another year.”

Virtual grad ceremony

Without hand shaking and hugs and time-honored traditions at Dalton such as grads joining in a circle to sing the alma mater before gleefully tossing their grad caps in the air, Dalton High School’s graduation ceremony certainly will feel like a smaller event than usual for the grad and his or her immediate family. Nevertheless, Dalton’s seniors will be honored for their accomplishments and hard work. Ultimately, the audience may be just as large — or larger — as graduation will be available online so extended families and friends can watch on their screens.

Students still will get to cross a stage and pick up a diploma that Principal Chris Black will place on the easel. Guidance counselor Luke Grau will announce awards and scholarships and future plans for each student.

Superintendent Jim Saxer wrote in an email that graduation will be a single-family in-person graduation with only parents and siblings. Also, in an effort to keep everyone safe and healthy, the plan includes families staying in their vehicles until they are told to enter the school, and the school nurse will take everyone’s temperature as they enter. The ceremony will be live streamed and the goal is to post a link to Dalton Local’s website and share through social media so the ceremony can be viewed, Saxer wrote.

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