Lincoln high school spreading holiday spirit with first Unified play

Lincoln North Star is putting on its first Unified play.
Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 3:38 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - A holiday production slated to hit the stage next month marks the expansion of an inclusive program within Lincoln Public Schools.

Lincoln North Star is putting on its first Unified play. Like other Unified Sports, it combines students with and without disabilities, working together and supporting one another to succeed.

“I just really like theater, feeling like it’s a space for everyone because this is an art of human expression,” said Mia Vogel, a North Star senior said.

For many, the theater is a safe space to take in a show, excel onstage, or help make it all happen in the various roles behind the scenes. At North Star, a group of more than 50 students is putting on ‘Jingle Arrgh the Way’, a fun Christmas musical about pirates.

“So today we came in for rehearsal, we practiced a song that we already knew and we learned a whole new song and dance moves that went with the choreography,” said Corban Barnacle, a junior.

Unified activities continue to grow across the U.S. At LPS it started with sports about six years ago. Since then it’s expanded, even adding classes like woodworking and gym, and in the past year added this version of Unified theater.

“It shows that given the opportunity and given the support needed, all our students can be successful,” said Nichole McCoy a special education teacher at North Star.

Here’s how Unified theater works, like other Unified activities it’s done by pairing up students with and without special needs. Just so those with disabilities have a helping hand on and off stage. Many of the pairs already know each other from other Unified activities. Like Kaitlyn Cornett and Samantha Frank, who also do Unified bowling.

“She’s always in a good mood,” Cornett said. “She’s very happy all the time, she says some funny remarks.”

“Kaitlyn is funny,” Frank said.

Those who are also involved in traditional productions at the school say when the curtain rises for this show it will feel different.

“It’s very hard to explain but its just it’s amazing,” said Nathan Metzger, a junior. “A little nerve-wracking at times but it’s amazing.”

The show is running at Lincoln North Star Dec. 8-10.