Summer school was in full swing and it all ended with a year-end program for families. This special education class spent the summer learning songs from the musical “Wicked”. With the help of their teachers and paraprofessional Jill Perhus, students mastered the songs and came up with a dance routine as well. Students were buzzing with excitement to show off what they learned over the summer. In addition, their artwork was displayed with projects varying from painted rocks to personalized cereal box frames.
The program began as the entire room quieted down for a pre-show warm up. This included vocal exercises and stretching. Earlier in the summer, Perhus noticed a shift in the students’ energy when playing calming music at the beginning of class. One of the most special moments over the summer was when students took charge of the creative process. “I started with one dance move and immediately I had a student come up with a move they wanted to do,” she said. From there, any student that wanted to participate picked their dance move, and the rest of the group learned it. Each dance move was named after the student that created it. “The pride and excitement in their faces when they would perform their dance moves was priceless,” Perhus said.
Students performed the songs “For Good” and “Dancing Through Life.” Perhus has a background in music and was excited to teach the students these songs. “There are lyrics in the music the students can really relate to,” Perhus said, “The line ‘I am who I am today because I knew you’ is so impactful.’” Before counting in the dance, a student called out to the crowd, “Are you ready to dance, everyone?” The students had smiles stretched wide for the performance, proud of their hard work.
The program was held Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings throughout the summer. The students worked on academic learning, went on adventures in Moorhead and had active classes like physical education and musical theater. The performance was not the only highlight of the last week of summer school. The students had a pool party with the girls swim and dive team and played a baseball game.