Being a dancer has taught me so many valuable things: discipline, a healthy lifestyle, self-expression, confidence... just to name a few. That being said, I attribute most of these lessons learned to the girls who danced beside me through it all. And by through it all, I mean thirteen years - and counting. Having belonged to a small dance studio, the majority of the girls in my first class were the girls I struggled saying goodbye to in my last one. We were practically babies when we first stepped into the studio with our little ballet slippers, and really only there because our moms signed us up.

Nonetheless, as the years went on, we developed a passion together… and that forms a pretty special bond. Doing something you love, with other people who share that interest can form some incredible friendships; and I can speak to that, all these years later.

Maggie Lyons

The great thing about being part of an organization outside of school, is that you have the opportunity to meet a whole different group of people whom you otherwise wouldn't. Each Thursday night, I walked into the studio with girls from all different schools, towns, grades, and interests, to do something we love. It is so refreshing being with people who you can learn from and form a different relationship with than the people you see daily at school. Don't get me wrong, I love my school friends - some of them are my absolute favorite people - but I believe there is value in making friends with people in an environment you choose to be, rather than in one you were forced to.

Everyone wanted to be at the studio, because it was an escape - safe space where you could forget whatever is on your mind and immerse yourself in doing what you love, with people you love. Each day was just another day closer to the next Thursday. As we got older, weekly dance classes turned into long weekends spent at competitions, seven-hour rehearsals, and even working alongside by besties to teach first-grade classes - most of us incorporated dance as much as we could into our lives, and became besties through it. Oh, and many unforgettable memories made along the way - waking each other up at 5:00am in Boston to attempt to do each other's hair before convention, inside jokes about the girls who stole our doughnuts at our favorite competition, improving dances together when we forgot them on stage, swearing the studio is haunted because the music skipped… and infinitely more.

So, to my Thursday girlies, thank you… all twelve of you. Whether the hardest things in life at the time were worrying about my mom's health, or undergoing some pretty draining senior year drama, you guys were always there for me. I always knew if I needed anyone, all I needed to do was call. It was such a pleasure sharing the studio, the stage, and many (many) bobby pins with you. Who knew one tiny room with a mirror and a barre could create a lifelong friends - ones I grew up up with and consider family - sisters.

Maggie Lyons