SAIL program charms classmates with ‘Wizard of Oz’

Leader News Staff
news@ptleader.com
Posted 7/13/22

These kids surely aren’t in Kansas anymore.

Students with Salish Coast Elementary School’s SAIL (Supporting Academics with Inclusionary Learning) program performed “The Wizard of …

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SAIL program charms classmates with ‘Wizard of Oz’

Posted

These kids surely aren’t in Kansas anymore.

Students with Salish Coast Elementary School’s SAIL (Supporting Academics with Inclusionary Learning) program performed “The Wizard of Oz” to their peers, wowing viewers with their rendition of the classic play.

Salish Coast Elementary’s SAIL class is composed of students with complex communication needs and those that have complex bodies and are non-speaking or difficult to understand without the use of an augmentative alternative communication device. The actors were also comprised of students with a variety of disabilities as well as neurotypical peers.

After months of planning, practice, and learning their lines, the SAIL students got the show on the road, providing a proud performance in front of their peers.

“They practiced and presented the play and it was amazing,” said Sharon Redmon, the SAIL program teacher at Salish Coast Elementary. “After the performances they were walking around like they were famous all day. What an amazing way to break down barriers.”

The SAIL kids had been working on the play since late February, using a curriculum called Readtopia to give the students unique learning challenges to build the foundation needed to read and write. The kids spent months building their vocabularies around “The Wizard of Oz” and setting up for the performances by engineering their stage, setting up costumes, and building a robot version of Toto — the play’s famous terrier dog that accompanies Dorothy throughout her whimsical adventure.

Months of work culminated in an inspiring performance under the limelights as peers of the SAIL program students cheered and applauded at the play’s end.

“It was amazing seeing so many of my kids being genuinely congratulated with high-fives, cards from their classmates, and congratulations by their peers in the hallways and on the playground,” Redmon said. “It was magical and worth all the stress and hours it took to build a space for them to thrive.

Redmon added that a teacher attending the play with her fifth-grade students was delighted by the play, saying, “The SAIL program’s performance of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ was spectacular! My students loved it. Bravo to all of the students and the staff that made this momentous event happen … Somewhere over the rainbow, silver shoes are clicking, there’s no place like home and you brought that magic to Salish.”

During the Port Townsend School District’s July 7 meeting, Superintendent Linda Rosenbury praised the student-performers and the unifying appeal their play had on the audience.

“They put on a production of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ for the entire school and it was magical to see all of these students coming together and putting on a play for the entire school community,” Rosenbury said during the meeting.

Redmon discussed how heartwarming it was to see the student audience embrace their peers and enjoy the play that had been in production for months with hours and hours of preparation.

“The whole school saw our kids as capable for the first time. For a moment they were not the troublemakers, the non-listeners, and ones that cause issues, the kids that don’t talk or walk; instead they were smart, kind, and brave,” Redmon said. “It was truly an inclusionary success.”

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