Students gives special ‘Peter Pan’ performance

Poised before a rapt audience, their movements sure and confident,
their eyes glistening in the spotlight and with minds eager to deliver
profound and dramatic lines, 19 Blaine High School students took the
stage March 22 and 23 and performed “The Adventures of Peter Pan.”

by Sue Austreng
Staff writer

Poised before a rapt audience, their movements sure and confident, their eyes glistening in the spotlight and with minds eager to deliver profound and dramatic lines, 19 Blaine High School students took the stage March 22 and 23 and performed “The Adventures of Peter Pan.”

Pirates Celina Lee, Sara Myers and Brian Holschbach (playing the
part of Smee) prepare to face-off against Peter Pan. Brian uses a
ChatPC “talker” as his communication device during his performance.

The students, members of the high school’s DCD population (students with developmental cognitive disabilities and adaptive disabilities), devoted creative energies and inspirational input and several weeks of preparation to produce and perform the play in the BHS auditorium.

“Our students learn with experience,” said special education teacher and “Peter Pan” co-director Lynn Florman.

“They chose the play. They built and painted the scenery. They developed costumes and props. They learned the lines. They made the invitations. They made posters announcing the production. It’s their play.”

The “Peter Pan” cast of characters included students who depend on state-of-the-art communication devices to deliver their lines and act out their parts, Florman said.

“They all worked so hard on this and they all did so well. Most people don’t know these students can do this. Some of them didn’t know they could do this either,” she said.

The process began amid much excitement, but first, BHS special education students were invited to select a play to perform.

According to Cindi Marshall (who co-directed the play along with special education teachers Carrie Holly and Florman), when her students were invited to select a play, 34 different titles were suggested.

“The students voted to choose which play we would do,” Marshall said.

The top five selections included “Toy Story,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “The Adventures of Peter Pan,” she said.

“Once ‘Peter Pan’ was chosen, we got to work,” Marshall said.

“Students have been working on this production the entire third quarter,” said Florman.

This is the 10th annual play DCD students have performed, she said. “This presentation highlights the things our students can do regardless of their disabilities,” Florman said.

And audience members’ eyes were opened to the dramatic opportunities available to students with disabilities.

“Our students have classmates in the audience, their own family members – some parents even took the siblings out of school so they could see this. And we also have other schools’ special ed. students here to see the play,” said Florman.

“That lets them see what’s possible. They may not have ever known they could do something like this, but when they see this, they’ll know anything’s possible.”

Sue Austreng is at sue.austreng@ecm-inc.com

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