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Unified Theater at Sedgwick Middle School in West Hartford Prepares for 13th Season

"We're ALL in this Together" on this Unified Theater Leadership Summit" adventure. Unified Theater Student leaders from Sedgwick Middle School (from left) FRONT ROW: Coco Haverty, Lilla Delaney, Amanda Sagers, Ella Tanis. BACK ROW: Kaitlyn Puleo, Ruby Eisler, Chloe Starr, Mason Murphy, Madeleine Levesque, and Ben Hardesty. Submitted photo

The 10 student leaders of Sedgwick Middle School’s Unified Theater organization attended a leadership summit this summer, and are set to begin preparation for the 13th annual production.

"We're ALL in this Together" on this Unified Theater Leadership Summit" adventure. Unified Theater Student leaders from Sedgwick Middle School (from left) FRONT ROW: Coco Haverty, Lilla Delaney, Amanda Sagers, Ella Tanis. BACK ROW: Kaitlyn Puleo, Ruby Eisler, Chloe Starr, Mason Murphy, Madeleine Levesque, and Ben Hardesty. Submitted photo

“We’re ALL in this Together” on this Unified Theater Leadership Summit” adventure. Unified Theater Student leaders from Sedgwick Middle School (from left) FRONT ROW: Coco Haverty, Lilla Delaney, Amanda Sagers, Ella Tanis. BACK ROW: Kaitlyn Puleo, Ruby Eisler, Chloe Starr, Mason Murphy, Madeleine Levesque, and Ben Hardesty. Submitted photo

Submitted by Denise Brezinski, Sedgwick Middle School

Unified Theater at Sedgwick Middle School is alive and well and ready to roll into their theatrical season with its first practice slated for Sept. 23. The group’s 10 student leaders have been busy preparing for the 13th annual production throughout the summer and recently attended a leadership summit sponsored by Unified Theater Inc. at West Hartford’s Underground.

Madeleine Levesque, co-producer, learned (at summit) about “the four steps toward full inclusion – how to lose the labels, put the spotlight on ability, inclusion in action and magic in modifications.” She added that “by using these four ideas,with a little imagination, every individual in the group will feel as an equal!”

Kaitlyn Puleo, stage crew technical director left the summit “ learning about all the the ice breakers,” those valuable games and tactics that get the new participants active while getting acquainted with one another! This year as a student leader she “hopes to introduce more people to crew as well as cast.”

Ella Tanis, assistant producer, sums up Unified as “EVERYBODY working together all for the same purpose. EVERYBODY working together to pull the show together in the end!” She hopes that as a leader this year she can assure “EVERY ONE has a great experience “ while having some fun!

Amanda Sagers, scene director, describes Unified as “having fun with friends, having a time to feel included with everyone.” Amanda has the daunting task of pulling the entire show together with the vigorous details outlined by Unified Theater, Inc!

Coco Haverty, choreographer, chose the songs ”Brand New,” “Superheroes,” and “Safe and Sound,” and wrote the dance steps for this year’s themed show about superheroes. “You Don’t Need POWERS to be a HERO!” will showcase 3 musical dance selections and many student written and produced scenes. “Safe and Sound” will be performed with sign language included!

Chloe Starr, co-inclusion specialist, feels that Unified is “an amazing program that has brought me out of my shell”. As a leader this year, Chloe “wants to make everyone feel they have a place when they are with us at Unified and enjoy their time feeling comfortable sharing their ideas.”

Unified Theater highlights creativity over conformity; collaboration over competition; ability over disability. This “perfectly imperfect” show strives to treat everyone as individuals and equals. “Together” the group puts the spotlight on ability!

The performance is totally student run, produced, directed and designed! Adult advisors Melissa Lotstein, sixth grade Sedgwick music teacher; Paige Liseo, sixth grade special education teacher; and Denise Brezinski, special needs paraprofessional along with Heather Pelkey, artistic design person extraordinaire guide the group throughout the theatrical process.

In this fully inclusive theater production, students of all abilities work side by side as equally contributing members. Students are able to explore many aspects of theater – dancing, singing, acting, stagecraft and more – while having fun and getting to know their classmates.

Unified Theater is a collaborative effort of special education and regular education students at Sedgwick Middle School whose mission is to create a theatrical production equally featuring the talents of individuals with and without special needs, is a not-for-profit endeavor begun at Conard High School in 2002 by former student Micaela Connery.

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