MCDUFFIE COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) — A local high school is celebrating tonight after winning several awards at a theater competition.
“I was in the middle of designing our season and I said, ‘I have no clue what we’re supposed to do for One Act this year’,” said Wesley Walker, the drama teacher at Thomson High School.
Thomson High school’s drama department teamed up with its special education students to bring “It’s Our School, Too” to the competition stage.
It was part of the Region One Act theater competition held at Washington County High School over the weekend.
The play is based on true stories of students with disabilities from the St. Paul/Minneapolis area.
“Our students were just incredible,” said Dr. Mychele Rhodes, superintendent of McDuffie County Schools. “And the most important thing was it truly brought awareness to our student body about the importance of inclusivity and really wrapping their arms around our students with disabilities. And being mindful of how it feels for them to be at school each day.”
Each school had 55 minutes to set-up, perform, and take-down their presentation.
Students at Thomson High not only did that, but they took home one of the biggest awards of the day: Best Ensemble.
Corie Johnson is a special education teacher at the school. She says the students rose to the occasion and evolved during the two months since they began rehearsals.
“So now, our students with disabilities and without disabilities – they’re learning about their differences, they’re celebrating their differences,” said Johnson. “They’re learning about their support. And they are truly making authentic friendships.”
Student Jacob Posey took home the “All Star Cast” award.
“That is just mind-blowing!” said Posey. “And, to be honest, these guys- we couldn’t have done it without them. I hope they can be a part of more plays in the future.”
Student Grant Mueller and two other performers had the chance to use their communication devices to say their lines. Mueller said he felt good about his performance.
“I had so much fun with my friends, with my teammates,” said student Demetrius Hester. “And I love the play.”
“I was proud of everybody,” said Paris Webb, a Unified Partner for the Special Olympics. “They did so good. And I’m so happy.”
Now that they’ve rolled out the red carpet, teachers at Thomson High hope this is the beginning of many great collaborations to come.
“These students can achieve at the same level as our other students as long as they have the proper accommodations and modifications they require to get them there,” said Walker. “And, hopefully, we will continue this tradition of continuing to have our SPED kids in our program.”