Prairie Center Play Spreads Message of Inclusion

Nov. 13, 2012 ~ Prairie Center Elementary fifth-graders and vocal music teacher Max Hasselquist took on a new challenge in their latest musical. "No Such Thing as Normal," sponsored by The Jellybean Conspiracy nonprofit organization, is a musical about autism.

"This musical shares many similarities with musicals I've done in the past," Hasselquist said, "but I've never produced a musical with such a powerful message. The life lesson and moral values of this production really make it special."

"No Such Thing as Normal" is a fun, educational musical about a young child with autism and his everyday quest to feel included by his neuro-typical peers, Hasselquist said. "It's a play that helps our students understand a little more about the disorder called autism."

"The purpose of this show is to give all children opportunities to act, dance and sing, and at the same time, to encourage them to be considerate and kind to one another," Hasselquist said. Jellybean Conspiracy Director Gaby Lucas visited Prairie Center during music time and helped students with acting, singing, and dancing.

"It is my hope that our students and their families will gain a greater awareness of what autism is, why our students with autism do what they do, and the different ways that general education peers can support students with autism," Principal Natalie Browning said.

During the play, several students wonder why “Sam” doesn’t get involved with school activities and often stays to himself instead of getting to know his classmates. This scene shows a “super cool kid” wondering aloud why Sam hasn’t joined her and her friends in their club. Student portraying the
The play focuses on “Sam,” a child with autism, and the reasons why he may not be able to join in some of the groups and clubs of his peers. In this scene, the title character, portrayed by a general education student, tells his classmates that the Super Cool Kids’ scarves feel scratchy to his skin, and bright lights bother his eyes. Sam explains why he hasn't joined clubs
The chorus sings a song explaining that loud noises hurt Sam’s ears. Students sing about loud noises

The finale of “No Such Thing as Normal” wraps up the message that autism covers a wide spectrum of neurological issues, and people with autism don’t always have the same needs or concerns. The students agree there’s no such thing as normal, because everyone is different, whether they have autism or not.

Photos by Marlene Colgan

The finale of No Such Thing as Normal