By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Northborough – Jordan Manousas, a sophomore at Algonquin Regional High School (ARHS), came running in to the school auditorium from rugby practice March 22 just in time to oversee the school’s first Inclusion Coffee House. Jordan coordinated the event featuring performances by students of all abilities.
“It’s just a really good way to bring people together because I feel like we don’t have enough representation in general,” she said. “It’s a great inclusive program and everyone can showcase their talent no matter what ability they may have. I think it’s awesome.”
There were a dozen performances including vocals, interpretive dance, trumpet, cello, and a drum solo take on Led Zeppelin’s “Pat’s Delight.” Two student acapella groups also performed.
The Best Buddies chapter at ARHS has 29 buddy pairs and the organization is student-run. Their goal is to create opportunities for friendships between those with and without intellectual disabilities. Members have a passion for inclusion of all students in all aspects of the ARHS community experience.
Kevin Hausmann, a faculty advisor for the program, said that Manousas and her fellow Best Buddies officers were looking for new ideas to take part in the “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign, which is attempting to end the use of the word “retarded.” They thought a coffee house would be a great way to bring in the community.
The timing of this event isn’t accidental. March is the month when Best Buddies celebrates the movement to “Spread the Word to End the Word.”
“We are doing it more to show awareness and seeing people not for their disabilities, but for their abilities,” Hausmann said. He included that a member of the parent community, Lori Diamond, who has musical experience, helped produce the show. The sound, lighting and much of the production was done by fellow students at ARHS.