RICHTON PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- A step competition showcased the talents of middle and high school students from the Chicago area, Indiana and Missouri.
More than one dozen teams competed in the Kappa League High School Step Competition at Southland College Prep in Richton Park.
The teams put in many hours of practice, learning an art form with roots in African American culture. Those step teams performed intricate routines, leaving it all on the stage in a competition at Southland College Prep.
Corey Levy, the school's operations manager, said 15 teams from across the Midwest have been practicing all year for this event.
"Really, what it is, is bringing everyone together in the brotherhood, sisterhood like fraternity and sorority, just having a good time with everyone," Levy said.
Levy said the middle and high school-age students have not only studied how to step, but why.
The art form traditionally performed by Black fraternities and sororities may have originated from enslaved African Americans who developed percussive dances after drums were banned following a slave rebellion.
On Saturday, young steppers showed off their hard work in hopes of winning first place and a prize of $1,000.
Southland College Prep student Jadyn Erves said his team put in a lot of hours.
"Usually, we practice all week from 4:30 to 6:30 every day," Erves said.
In the end, participants said, stepping has created a family atmosphere and boosted their self-confidence.
"Something I do is take deep breaths, re-center myself, and I'm like, 'This is for you. This is for your team. Go out there and do it,'" said Lyons Township High School stepper Siena Garcia.
Tamika Killens with Lyons Township High School also weighed in.
"I want them to be happy. I want them to have excitement. I want them to appreciate having this experience, comradery, respect, love. Keep your grades together. All that greatness," Killens said.