Shannon’s final semester of high school is now underway! I went into Shannon’s classes for the very last time to share with the students how important it is that they treat her as they do all their other friends, to joke with her, invite her into the group, share secrets and to just be. Today was also the day that it has hit me, this is it! This amazing group of kids who have absolutely accepted Shannon exactly as she is will be moving on, dispersing, starting their adult lives.
I entered the dance studio feeling great, then I saw the familiar faces of students who have danced on Massey stage with Shannon. I felt a little tug at my heart. The dancers sat in a big circle and I joined in. There are always lots of faces I recognize when I come to talk and dotted amongst them are students who are meeting Shannon for the first time. This is Shannon’s eighth time in dance class and her teacher knows the value of having Shannon in her class, she has requested Shannon’ presence and has heard my words many times before. Just before I started she let me know that the class had already been warned that I might get emotional during my talk today, I thought I’d have until May when classes and activities start to wind down before feeling the effects of the end of school, apparently February is the new May!
It’s hard to explain how important a school filled with peers is for Shannon, and even more so, how amazing dance has become in her life. As I started my talk I remembered back to the first time I saw Shannon dancing, her group chose music from the Pink Panther and every time she has heard that song since, she smiles. I looked over towards her teacher, she had tears in her eyes, I looked over at Shannon’s support worker, more tears, what chance did I have!
As I was leaving the dance studio toward the drama studio Shannon’s teacher came over to me. The Year end dance performance is a big deal and one where many of the grade 12 students take on important roles.The teacher had already picked the lead choreographers and talked to them to make sure they plan something special for Shannon’s final dance on stage, they were way ahead of her, they already have something in mind, something where Shannon will be featured with a song that has meaning to her. We have also been fortunate to have met amazing people in the community, wheelchair dancers who have come to Shannon’s class in the past and are more than willing to share their talents, if needed, to make sure this show is one to remember. Bring on the tissues, I don’t have a hope!
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