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DECATUR — The enthusiasm displayed by the actors in “Attitude is Everything” is seldom seen.

MacArthur High School's Life Skills students have been rehearsing the original production since the second semester started in January and will present the show at noon and 6 p.m. Thursday.

Written by a Decatur educator who wishes to remain anonymous, the play is the second production by the Life Skills students, said Shannen Ray, one of the teachers. She was a building principal for several years, but has gone back to her first love, teaching special education. 

Logan_Mitchell 5.7.19

Logan Mitchell, left, prepares to act before the start of a play rehearsal for life skills students.

“Last year, we had a play, and the students really loved it,” Ray said. “We talked to other students in the Life Skills department, and that's how we got other students in the department to participate in the play, because they saw it last year.”

The play last year was only two classrooms, Ray said, and was started to give the students an option of something to do outside of school and in the hopes that theater would spark a passion in them. Many of them love to sing and dance, she added, and this play includes both.

“It was another way to highlight some of the skills they have,” she said.

Life Skills students are students with moderate disabilities who need a functional curriculum aligned to life living. The teachers, Ray said, want to make sure their students get the same kind of high school experience, including extracurricular activities, that the regular education students do.

Parts were found for every student who wanted to participate in the play, 24 of them in all, over half of the total Life Skills students. Some have lines, some participate in the musical numbers, and Jonathan Jones, a senior, portrays Mother Hubbard's dog, who doesn't have a name other than “Dog.”

“I'm just the dog,” Jonathan said with a laugh.

This week, with the performance upon them, the students are rehearsing all day, instead of the three times a week they rehearsed the rest of the semester, he said. And he had to duck out for a while to go to his job at Good Samaritan Inn.

“I'm coming back after I finish work,” he added.

The story is that Mother Hubbard, as you might remember from the nursery rhyme, went to the cupboard to get her poor dog a bone, and the cupboard was bare. Rather than let Dog go without, however, in this play she got busy and wrote a book to make some money. The book assigns a virtue to each letter of the alphabet, and the rest of the play is the students demonstrating those virtues.

Life Skills performance 5.7.19

Life Skills students, teachers and teaching assistants rehearse Tuesday for their upcoming performance of the play, “A to Z Attitude is Everything.” More photos at herald-review.com.

“We knew what the play was going to be about,” Ray said, “and we taught the attributes throughout the school year.”

For compassion, for example, a student falls down. One student walks by and laughs, but the next student to walk by offers a hand to help him up.

Part of the play is students in a classroom at desks, and the students use their own names for their characters.

“I like it,” said Mitchell Logan, who wasn't in last year's production and said he's not a bit nervous. “It's fun to be in a play.”

Mother Hubbard is portrayed by teacher Amanda Wrigley, and regular education students, teachers and teaching assistants help out during the show as needed.

“What I'm doing in the play is running in scenes, and then for 'attitude,' (the song we sing is) sometimes I'm happy, sometimes I'm blue,” said Isaac Lourash, a senior. “I enjoy doing this.”

Contact Valerie Wells at (217) 421-7982. Follow her on Twitter: @modgirlreporter

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Education Reporter

Education reporter for the Herald & Review.

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