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School puts on play with special group of actors

By Amanda Butterfield | Posted - Mar. 24, 2010 at 6:00 p.m.


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MIDVALE -- A school in Midvale put on a production of "The Wizard of Oz." It's nothing unusual for a typical school -- but this is not a typical school.

Many of the students cannot talk or walk -- but they can act.

Jordan Valley School in the Canyons District in Midvale teaches severely disabled students. For the past six weeks, they've been working on a play -- something the students have never done before.

The stands were packed for the production.

Kyle Schmidt plays the not-so-cowardly lion, and Demi Shaw plays the Wicked Witch. They are learning more than just their lines.

JiJi Perkins, a speech language pathologist at the school, said, "They are learning the same things the rest of us learn from it: the self-esteem, the ability to be on stage and the ability to share their talents."

The kids who go to the school have a lot of heart and courage, their teachers say -- just like the characters in the play.

"We have children with autism, cerebral palsy, kids who are in wheelchairs, kids who are tube fed," Perkins said.

"It's tender, I want to cry, it's beautiful," said Jacque Armstrong, whose son plays one of the munchkins. "He loves coming to school. He loves the teachers and his peers. He loves being here."

This play is also teaching the kids language skills. By saying some of the most famous lines from a movie, they're learning new words and how to better communicate.

E-mail: abutterfield@ksl.com

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Amanda Butterfield

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