Las Vegas Sun

January 28, 2015

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Letter to the editor:

Variety School strikes a chord

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My compliments to Paul Takahashi for an excellent article on the new Variety School. It reminded me that, as a school board member in the ’70s, I used to spend a lot of time at the Helen J. Stewart School for special needs students and gained enormous respect for special education teachers.

One event at that school remains unforgettable. I had asked Charles Vanda, the originator of the Charles Vanda Master Series at UNLV, if the Minneapolis Chamber Orchestra could rehearse at that school. He agreed and the next day the orchestra came. After the first few bars, one of the children came forward, stood behind the director, and began to imitate him with energetic arm movements. Soon another child joined him, then another, then another and before long the entire audience was directing the orchestra.

Interesting was the fact that a lot of children began to applaud each time before the coda as if they felt that the piece was about to end, indicating that they had a better sense of musical perception than we give those children credit for. Afterwards, Vanda and members of the orchestra told me that this was the best musical experience they ever had.

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  1. When the article about Variety School came out this week, I was so very proud of our school district, CCSD, that I took the article and displayed it in my school's staff lounge...absolutely uplifting news! This new, improved facility will better prepare students for having a positive transition into independent living. Few realize that we have such a large population of special needs students as Takahashi wrote about some 32,000 students, so the need is there.

    Commenter Bradley Chapline's story truly touched my heart, stirring memories as well, how music is the universal language, just as is a smile.

    Blessings and Peace,

  2. Let me play devil's advocate.....How much? How much did it cost to build, what is the cost of staffing, how much do these intensive services cost, what's the per cap cost of running this place?

    CCSD, you can't adequately provide services to 300,000 or so kids in regular ed but you can have a Taj Mahal for these guys. According to various news reports referencing the proposed state budget, as many as a thousand autistic kids will be denied state services....that's just autism. Many thousands more will forgo immunizations, well-child, maternal health, intervention and other services.

    When I see this kind of story it doesn't make me feel good. Oh, I think it's great for the folks fortunate enough to make the cut. But you have to understand that until every autistic kid gets this level of opportunity, the ones left behind have even less opportunity.

  3. Comment removed by moderator. Personal Attack