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Abrupt Lehighton dance studio closure upsets parents

A Lehighton dance studio has shut its doors for good.

And that decision has left many parents who won’t be reimbursed for tuition upset.

Tricia’s Dance Extreme, at 211 South St. in Lehighton, announced in a text message to their dance families that as of Wednesday, the studio was no longer in business.

Tricia Hettler, the owner and director of Tricia’s Dance Extreme, texted: “Hi everyone this is Tricia, first of all I wanted to thank everyone for your love and support through the years … but as of today, Feb. 24, 2021, tde will be closing its doors permanently.”

She said she was no longer able to have the studio in the building.

“Thanks for all the support I miss everyone deeply,” she texted.

Several parents texted Miss Tricia back wondering about the money they spent on tuition and costumes.

Hettler answered, “I’m sorry tuition that has been paid I cannot refund. You will not be charged for the remaining months and as soon as all costumes come in I will let everyone know when and where they can be picked up at.”

Several parents also asked what that means for the people who prepaid for the entire year, as there were credits to people for time missed, but they didn’t get that either because it was prepaid.

One parent said her daughter’s class met twice since Thanksgiving, and wanted to know what good are the costumes, adding that it isn’t fair to the kids.

Autumn Frey of Mahoning Township said, “I was shocked when she sent out the group text being closed. I didn’t think it was going to come to that.”

Frey said her daughter, Ava, 7, had been enrolled in the dance school since she was 2 ½ years old.

“I had just told her that Tricia’s Dance Extreme closed down, and we’re just going to move on,” she said. “Tricia was excellent with my daughter, patient with her. This is just really sad, and I just wish nothing but the best for (Tricia) and that everything works out with her.”

Regardless, Frey said she believes it’s only right that the parents get their money back.

“I just feel that she closed and that’s her business, but I just feel that she should reimburse the parents the money that they invested into the dance studio in a timely manner, to get her thoughts together and let them know what they’re plan is,” she said.

Jade Kunkle of Lehighton said she feels bad for her daughter Josephine, 5, who was enrolled in the dance school.

“We had a bad year last year because of COVID,” Kunkle said. “Last year was my daughter’s first year in dance, (and) we were unable to have a recital.”

Kunkle said that this year, her daughter’s class was on a Tuesday, and that after Thanksgiving, there was a two-week cancellation due to the mandated shutdown, followed by many cancellations due to the weather.

“I was kind of shocked to get the message that she shut down,” she said. “Obviously I’m sad because I don’t like to see any small business close down.”

Kunkle said she considered the dance school “like a family.”

“We were like a smaller dance school, and I consider Tricia a friend, I wish her the best; I hope that she comes out of this OK,” she said. “I just feel that our Tuesday class, we paid for months of classes we didn’t get, (and I’m) just hoping she makes that right.”

Kunkle said that regardless, there’s “no hard feelings.”

“I’m just heartbroken for not only my child, but all the children,” she said. “Some of us are trying to scramble to make sure our children can go to another dance school and possibly still have their recital this year.”

Heather Smith has two daughters, Peyton Smith, 3, and Zoey Bachman, 11, who were enrolled in the dance school.

“Everybody is pretty upset,” Smith said. “I don’t know what is going to happen with the financial side of it.”

Smith added it’s an unfortunate situation all the way around.

“It really is about the kids; these kids want a chance to be together and be with their friends and do something,” she said.

A message left on Tricia’s Dance Extreme voicemail went unanswered.

According to its website, the business was established in March 2009.

Tricia's Dance Extreme at 211 South St. in Lehighton announced in a text message to their dance families that as of Wednesday, they were no longer in business. TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS