Special Education and Conservatory Theatre Ensemble collaborate

By Sonja Hutson

CTE and Special Education have made a remarkable collaboration this year, which was first showcased in the Winter One Act Festival. Three Tam Special Ed. Students, Sophomore Jake Severin, Senior Tevin Moore and Sophomore Maribel Castro and three CTE students, Sophomore Allison Woodworth, Sophomore Monica Bi and Junior Glyn Peterson wrote and starred in “Her Face to the Sky” on January 12th and 19th in Caldwell Theater. This is the first of such a collaboration in ten years.

The partnership was facilitated by the group Youth in Arts. According to their blog, “Youth in Arts is dedicated to serving youth of all abilities with high quality arts programming.” Melissa Briggs, a Youth in Arts Mentor approached CTE and helped with the rehearsal process alongside Peterson, the student director.

Melissa certainly lived up to her organization’s standards. The actors received a standing ovation, but more importantly, had an extraordinarily positive experience themselves.

“I honestly couldn’t stop smiling an hour after the performance was over,” said Woodworth.

“It was really good [to be onstage]…I felt kinda nervous, and proud. Proud of myself,” said Castro to Briggs.

The project not only built pride in the Special Ed. students, but also formed strong connections between the cast. “By the end, we were all a happy family…I love talking to them…We have special handshakes,” said Woodworth. Each CTE student was paired with a Special Ed. student to work with individually. This allowed for especially close relationships to unfold. Castro, Woodworth’s partner, told a friend that Woodworth was her best friend.

The experience taught the group about teamwork as well. “I didn’t care about how we did; it was about our performance as an ensemble,” said Woodworth. “I learned so much from [the Special Ed. students.]”

Bi felt the same. “It’s not about me…[we] have to work together as a group,” she said to Briggs.

The group grew and learned together. Woodworth described the phenomenon. “At the beginning, they were all really shy and didn’t know what they were doing, but that was the same thing with Monica, Glyn and I; we didn’t really know what we were doing.” The group was able to overcome these challenges and create a performance that ultimately impressed the audience.

Sophomore Grace Batmale said, “I thought [Her Face to the Sky] was really good. It was really cute how they were all prompting eachother on their lines. I was expecting it to be something really not good, but it was really well put together.”