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Jordan Valley Students Engage in Music Assemblies

Jul 01, 2016 09:37AM ● Published by Julie Slama

Jordan Valley student Therese Roa sings alongside Rachel Moss, the lead singer of No Limits, during their May 10 concert at the school. — Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | julie@mycityjournals.com


It sounds just like an hour-long concert. And it is that. Only, it’s much more.

 At Jordan Valley School, musical groups have come to perform and interact with the students. On May 10, No Limits played pop songs from the past four decades for the students. Charlie Jenkins was scheduled to perform country music on June 2.

Jordan Valley students have severe multiple disabilities including autism, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, seizure disorders, communication impairments, genetic disorders and syndromes, deaf-blindness and students who are extremely medically fragile. The goal at Jordan Valley School is to improve the quality of life for students, age five to 22, and their families.

These musical assemblies give these students a chance for social interaction in a fun setting, Principal Mark Donnelly said.

“They practice with teachers before on what is appropriate social behavior and how to dance or how to watch, before the concert when they get the chance to dance and move,” he said. “It gets them active in a way that is just perfect for these students.”

Music teacher Caitlin Barney said that engagement is the key.

“We absolutely love when No Limits comes to Jordan Valley,” she said. “They bring a strong musical beat and so much energy that all of the students can’t help but instantly be engaged. This social engagement is very important to their growth and development.”

Educational Support Aide Leslie Johnson said that even those students with hearing disabilities can feel the music vibrations.

“They can feel the beat and it helps bring out their personalities,” she said. “We get smiles and they can work on their motor skills to move to the music. It’s something they can do with their peers here. Kids their age are going to concerts and dances so it’s a chance for them to experience the same social settings.”

Student Heather Landeen said she was having fun singing with different singers in the group.

“They’re fun,” she said. “I like dancing and singing.”

Rachel Moss, the lead singer of No Limits, began coming to the school with her friend eight years ago, singing to karaoke tracks. When her friend couldn’t come, she came alone and just “kept coming.” Now, the band has joined her and has donated their performances twice each year for the past five years.

“It’s been so much fun here for the musicians to interact with the students and for them to experience live music and instruments,” she said. “I’ve gotten to know so many of the students by name and they give me such joy. One student and his mother even came to my wedding.”

She said that through the music, they reach students.

“These students can’t go out to play sports or do other activities. Music is their thing and even though a lot of these students can’t speak or hear, their minds are sharp and they know the words to these songs and love to sing them. It doesn’t get any better than that — seeing them come alive with music when they are trapped in their bodies. It’s a privilege for me to help them,” Moss said.

Parent Sabrina Imig said she appreciates the break in routine for her son, Noah, and others.

“This school is amazing and the staff are totally dedicated to these students,” she said. “By allowing them to do fun stuff, it breaks up their daily routine and gets them engaged and they’re happy while they dance,” she said. “Every once in awhile, they get all excited for something special and today, they love listening and dancing to such a lively group.”

According to teacher Gary Ren, that is what most students appreciate.

“Most kids love it — it makes them happy,” he said. “They know the music and they get up and start dancing. Music can be calming for them and it can be fun; they love the vibrations.”   λ

Education, Today

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