Opening New Opportunities with Unified Band


Courtesy of Matteo Rodriguez

The drum sets await to be played next year by the students who join Unified Band.

Starting next year Silver Creek High School (SCHS) will be implementing a new Unified Program. This new program will open new opportunities for all students at SCHS but most importantly the Special Education population.
The Unified Program is a program in which Special Education students pair up with their classmates to participate in different activities. Some of these activities include, but are not limited to basketball, bowling, and choir.
A new band class starting in the 2022-23 school year, will allow Special Education students the ability to learn percussion instruments in the accompaniment of performing art students. The unified program has been historically focused on sports, but now is trying to branch out to other fields of interest.
Being derived from the first unified percussion program in the district at Mead High School, the program will be led by Bill Legg and will include performing art students that will act as mentors for the Special Education students. There will be a one to three ratio of band mates (Special Education students) and mentors.
This structure mirrors other unified programs like Comprehensive PE, Unified Basketball, Dave’s Champions, Unified Bowling, and Unified Choir. The new unified band will have an increased ratio of special needs students to mentors.
Together, the performing arts students, who will come from band, orchestra, or choir, and the Special Education students will star in a percussion ensemble that will learn fundamentals, and basic music to play during football game halftime shows and other venues.
“We’re going to be doing a lot of fun, basic music so that we can just get everyone involved,” said Aidan Lenski, Symphonic Band player at SCHS.
The only non-sport activity in the unified program is choir, which doesn’t leave much room for the students who don’t like to sing and want to try a new, non-athletic based program.
“It’s not often that you see them [special needs students] being included in music classes and finally they’re going to have a class all to themselves,” Lenski states.
A fellow band student, Katelyn Johnston, will join the program and plans to help teach the special needs students how to use the instruments and how to play music.
“I know I love Band and I want to share it with a lot of people I know,” said Johnston. “Some of my friends are in the Special Education program, so I want to share it with them, be able to talk about it, and show them how to do things.”
The opportunity also allows performing art students the ability to earn volunteering hours, while partaking in an activity they like and being able to help their peers. They will get experience in the teaching world, and be doing something good for the school community.
“Anytime you bring a new experience, you’re going to have hiccups but you’re also going to have a lot of fun,” Christopher Blair, Special Education advisor, says. “You’re going to see huge growth, not just in the students but in the musical department as well, similar to what we’ve had in the PE department.”
Blair thinks this new opportunity is great for the entire school community. He is very involved with the Unified Program and every Special Education student at the school. He gets to interact with them frequently and wants to see them do great things and be productive in the community.
Blair says, “With this unified percussion, it’s another opportunity for the school to be exposed to how great these kids are.”
The new program coming to SCHS will create the chance for the school community to grow. The Special Education students will have greater opportunities and exposure into other fields of activities that will get them more involved in the school.
“It’s just that exposure piece of it,” Blair says. “It’s getting them comfortable with the school realizing they’re not different from the school, they’re apart of the school.”