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Jordan Valley School performs The Little Mermaid
Showtime » Special-needs students use adaptive technologies, focus on their strengths.


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It’s not necessary to be on cue with these performances.

"What I like about these plays is that it never goes the way that you plan, but it makes it more fun," Barney said. "The spontaneous things that happen during the show is what makes Jordan Valley [plays] unique and fun."

At a glance

At a glance

Jordan Valley is a special-needs school in Canyons District.

This spring the school put on a performance of “The Little Mermaid,” which marks the fourth year that the school has been doing plays and musicals.

The nonverbal students delivered their lines with the help of hand-held devices that played recordings of their characters’ voices at the touch of a button.

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Some of those spontaneous things may mean that someone who said lines steadfastly during rehearsals might not be able to conquer stage fright at show time, but it could be the opposite of that.

"We had one student who was supposed to come up to the front and play his recorder, and then go to the back of the stage," Barney said. "He was so excited to perform that once we got an audience out there, he wouldn’t leave the stage, and he was dancing."

Before working on the play, the school arranged an assembly to introduce the story. Barney said the students were smiling, clapping, playing the instruments and giving hugs.

The school picks from Disney movies because that’s what students tend to be familiar with, but Barney said not to underestimate how much the students can comprehend.

"They understand the flow and when they’re supposed to come on," she said.

A true testament to the success of the production isn’t how many lines were said correctly or who shone as actors.

"The parents will come up to me and tell me how much their kids are enjoying it and benefiting from it," Barney said. "One of our students said this is making all of his dreams come true."

closeup@sltrib.com


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