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Singing Their Praises

Special education kids perform ‘Lean on Me’ for proud parents.

The colorful paintings of a happy mask, books, laboratory tools and “Go Vikings” slogans looked down from canvasses on the walls of the multipurpose room at

Valley

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Elementary School to the students filing in for an early morning assembly. Parents of the special education children were the first to take their seats in chairs circling the room, and they watched as their children, most of them in wheelchairs, took their places underneath a bank of spotlights at the foot of the stage. Teachers’ aides hovered over them preparing them to sing the song they had been rehearsing for a month as the rest of the regular classes began filing in and taking their places on the floor. “We are here to celebrate our achievements and we have many things to be proud of,” said Principal Gayle Abril. Special education teacher Tom Renaud announced the song, “Lean on Me,” and began to play on his guitar as the students sang. Renaud is among five special education teachers serving 50 students with a wide variety of multiple disabilities. “We do a lot of music together,” Renaud said. He chose the song because he wanted people to know that the children give to others. It’s not just the other way around, he said. Fourth- through sixth-graders in regular education classes volunteer in the special education classes aiding them in instruction, art, physical education and socializing. “They share stories and they talk, as kids do,” Renaud said. “The principal is very supportive and encourages us to be part of the school in every way.”

This story can be found in today’s Signal Newpaper

Singing Their Praises

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