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Upcoming Partnership Will Allow Special Needs Students to Shine on Stage in Broadway Musical

The Belton ISD Board of Trustees heard an update Monday about a district partnership in the works with an organization that pairs students without disabilities as mentors to children with disabilities — on stage in a modified version of a well-known Broadway musical.

“We are excited to partner with the Penguin Project to give students across the district a unique learning experience through putting on a theatre production,” said Jennifer Ramirez, executive director of special programs. “Theatre is so valuable in developing social and communication skills and self-esteem. This program is going to help us share that experience — and benefits — with our special needs students.” 

After the casting of special needs students is complete, age-level peers are paired as understudies. These mentors learn all the lines, help the actors through rehearsals and appear on stage with their partners, who do all the acting, singing and dancing. 

“It’s a beautiful win-win situation where all involved, including parents, leave the experience with new friendships and a better understanding of how similar we all really are,” Ramirez said.

Her next steps are identifying a theatre, along with production and technical staff, who can help make this partnership a reality. The goal is for an inaugural production next spring.

“We value each and every student in Belton ISD and believe all students deserve exceptional experiences according to their unique needs and passions,” Ramirez said. “I can’t think of a better way to demonstrate this belief in action than to offer this amazing opportunity to our students.”

In other news, the Board approved an agreement with the City of Belton to continue contracted school resource officer services in the district. Belton ISD has contracted with the City of Belton for these services since 1996.

April 18, 2022