Sammi: Process, Not Product
Becoming a Unified Theater student leader brings along with it many challenges and responsibilities. It’s no wonder we call our leaders “rock stars”; they are in charge of scheduling rehearsals, creating a play from scratch, and making artistic decisions. In her two years as a student leader, rock star Sammi from Chapel Hill High School (Chapel Hill, NC) learned about the importance of the Unified Theater process, busy as it is. “The most successful events may be those which appear least successful. The final product doesn’t mean anything if in the process we have lost sight of our goals of bringing people of all abilities together,” says Sammi.
Unified Theater is a chance for many students to practice social skills and forge new friendships. Sammi saw growth in one participating student when he learned to compromise. One student absolutely despised including one particular pop song in the show. He insisted, instead, that a classic rock song be used. He felt so strongly, in fact, that he was ready to drop out of Unified Theater. So what did Sammi and her fellow leaders do? After speaking again and again about the importance of compromise, this student began to “suggest ideas that would appeased everybody and was yielding on issues that, normally, he would have been adamant about doing his way”.
Since graduating from CHHS in 2013, Sammi has moved on to North Carolina State University where she is studying human biology and anthropology. As she pursues her studies, she keeps in mind the lessons of days in Unified Theater. Sammi finds herself using her creativity in problem solving, the arts, and even in dressing herself each morning. She also continues to think about inclusion. Having family members with disabilities has meant that Sammi has learned from a young age that a disability doesn’t define a person, and that the focus should be on making a personal connection with a person instead of focusing on what a person is not able to do.
It’s all about the process...of uncovering a person for who they are, of helping someone to grow and change, and of creating a new group of friends. All of which happen through the process of putting on a Unified Theater show.