Special-needs students share joy of Christmas in Edmond

Disabled students at Washington Irving Elementary School in Edmond took the stage to the delight of their parents and the student body.
BY SARAH LOBBAN Published: December 25, 2013

In the auditorium at Washington Irving Elementary hangs a banner proclaiming the school creed, which begins: “I was born to be a winner.”

A seasonal green and red banner across the back of the stage adds a quote by composer Richard Wagner: “Joy is not in things, it is in us.”

On the Friday before winter break, students gathered to watch the sixth-annual holiday presentation by the school's special-needs students. Parents also came to see their children take center stage.

This year, the performance featured a song well-known to Oklahomans — the B.C. Clark jewelry store Christmas jingle.

Using button-operated voice recorders, students described the history of the song. For the finale, they shook jingle bells in time with the song, while members of the audience sang along.

Many children in the special-needs program are profoundly disabled, meaning things that many people take for granted, such as the ability to move and communicate freely, can present difficulties.

Preparing the students to get up on stage can require months of practice. For the special needs teachers at Washington Irving, it is worth every minute.

“These kids are champions,” said Nicole Fox, who teaches the third- through fifth-grade classes. “Even though they may not be able to speak and their bodies may not move well, their souls are just angelic.”

While the holiday production is warmly received by the teachers and student body, it is most cherished by the families.