School Has Own Macy's Parade; Special Students Put on a Special Show at Palm Avenue Exceptional Student Center

By Whitehead, Christy | The Florida Times Union, December 13, 2006 | Go to article overview
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School Has Own Macy's Parade; Special Students Put on a Special Show at Palm Avenue Exceptional Student Center


Whitehead, Christy, The Florida Times Union


Byline: CHRISTY WHITEHEAD

It may not be in New York, but a Westside school recently put on its own mini Macy's parade.

Students at Palm Avenue Exceptional Student Center practiced their parade wave Dec. 1 for its second annual storybook parade.

Principal Cheryl Parker created the event last year to bring storybook characters to life for her school of special needs students. The school is a special education program that serves students from age 11 to 22 with different handicaps.

And being so close to Christmas, many of the students, parents and faculty wanted to add a bit of holiday excitement to the event.

The students and parents got to listen to storytelling as well as participate in different activities like decorating cookies, making holiday cards and caroling. But the big event was the parade.

There were about 20 groups that performed or showed up in the parade.

Students in wheelchairs got makeovers so that they became their own rolling floats, decked out as presents.

Jordan Mobley, 13, of the Westside, had his wheelchair decorated as a green present. He waved his arms madly at the crowd and wore a big smile.

"This is fun, huh?" his mom, Vangie Mobley, asked after the parade.

Mobley responded by showing off his signature parade wave and then breaking into a Christmas song.

Other students wore costumes from their favorite stories like The Wizard of Oz and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Parker announced the event in the same fun tone as the real Macy's parade.

"Tell me Palm Avenue can't have its own blimps," Parker said when a classroom of snowmen walked onto the parade route decked out in thick, cottony padding.

Parker said she hoped the parade would help the students understand the meaning of Christmas as well as bring different aspects of the world to life for them.

Teacher Nancy Hardie said the parade symbolized everything they were trying to do with the students.

"It's wonderful, this is what Christmas is all about: giving, loving and learning," she said. "We try to make every experience a learning experience for these children."

Many of the students' disabilities make learning and understanding common things difficult, which is why Parker tries to come up with activities the students can relate to.

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