Students of P.S. 255 take the stage at THHS

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On April 25, the students of P.S. 255 at Townsend Harris sang and danced to musical selections in the auditorium for parents and the school community.

P.S. 255, a District 75 school located at eight different sites in Queens, teaches autistic children from Pre-K to 11th grade. Its goal is for students to achieve maximum independence in several areas of skill.

Kenneth Henderson, paraprofessional (known as Mr. Kenny to his students), challenged these students by having them put on a show in custom-made costumes.

Mr. Kenny was involved in afterschool programs with both schools for approximately thirteen years. After taking inspiration from a glee club, he taught performance arts to the students of P.S. 255 for seven years.

Michelle Arenas and Alyssa D’Amato confidently opened the show by singing “Stop in the Name of Love,” by the Supremes.

Sophomore Drushanie Sayroo said, “I personally liked the girls’ singing and their attitudes were very upbeat. I wanted to get up and sing along with them. They created a very vibrant sense of feeling.”

Dressed in suits, Kenny DeJesus, Darwin Gonzalez, Giancarlo Recine, Patrick Julien, Vito Celano, and Rodrigo Martinez sang and clapped to a rendition of a Jackson 5 song.

The spotlight then shone on one of the boys as they all made choreographed hand gestures.

Nicholas Cheng, sophomore, said, “Their outfits were definitely an eye catcher, which was perfect for the act. As the Jackson 5, they were able to shine as stars just as the five did!”

A slideshow of the students played, portraying a bus strike and their interaction with the Townsend Harris community. It was accompanied by John Mayer’s “Waiting on the World to Change.”

This program led to the final act, in which Michelle and Alyssa once again sang together to Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary,” accompanied by Patrick’s guitar. At the end of the show, all students bowed and the girls were presented with bouquets of flowers.

Mr. Kenny believes that the students felt great about the results of their hard work, stating, “I felt like I was on top of the world because they reached the pinnacle that I believed they were able to reach. They learned that they can achieve a lot with the right amount of support, and to embrace how to entertain through song and dance.”

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