Special ed and general ed students at FGHS act side-by-side to present poignant message

by: COURTESY PHOTO: JOHN ANDERBERG - Ellie Holscher and Chris Sullivan rehearse last week for Forest Grove High School Unify Theatre´s upcoming production of Marked.Thirty Forest Grove High School students are hard at work this week putting the finishing touches on a different kind of high school play.

Forest Grove Unify Theatre will present “Marked,” writtten by special education instructional assistant John Anderberg. This is the second year special education and general education students have come together to put on the production. Anderberg has re-written the play a bit, he said, adding a scene and modifying it to include 30 actors this year.

Unify Theatre is one of the few programs in the country, Anderberg said, where students with mental and learning disabilities act side-by-side with general education students. As a result, he said, everyone benefits.

Disabled students “get to do something that’s significant. It’s a chance to show that they can do these things,” Anderberg noted. General education students learn important lessons from their peers.

“Marked” explores the hurt that name-calling and labeling others can cause.

“Equally important to the play,” Anderberg noted, “is the community dialogue after the play.” The floor will open after the play to questions, comments and discussion from the audience.

Anderberg and his theater company will take the show on the road May 3 to Poynter Middle School in Hillsboro.

He hopes to get other schools interested in forming similar theater groups and more importantly, opening a dialogue about bullying and the harm it causes.

Cast members include Ellie Holscher, Chris Sullivan, Brianagh Sullivan, Genny Gregory, Josh Hofmann, Samantha Knudson, Shanon Owens, Lexi Fabela, Jack Thias, Alex Thompson, Hassan Amhaz, Yasmine Weil-Pourfard, Cleopatra Boudreau, Emma Aceves, Michelle Bynem, Taryn Judah, Samantha Steely, Chelsea Ivey, Madison Weigand, Evan Divelbess, Cliff Turner, Colleen McNeely, Krystal Estrada, Hannah Carter, Alexandra Benefiel, Nate Kersey, Clay Sherill, Drew Beiser, Ray Mujica and Arianna Ellis.

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