A parade and balloon launch kicked off the Lyle Torrant Center’s annual art festival Friday, May 19. Students and volunteers lined the driveway to cheer as the Lumen Christi Catholic High School drumline led the parade. The festival had a variety of activities and programs for the special needs students to participate in, from a graffiti wall to button making to sensory-friendly activities. Jackson School of the Arts helped students “tap into their creativity.”
“Art is a way that everybody can engage with the beautiful things that are in our lives and anybody can create something,” Lyle Torrant Center Principal Amy Rogers said. “We provide various opportunities for our kids to engage with different mediums and listen to different performances and things like that just to enrich their lives.”
The center teaches special education students from 3 to 26 years old.
“When we are teaching our students we use multi-sensory approaches to learning and by feeling, smelling, touching, tasting, listening, they are learning through this experience,” Rogers said.
Rogers revived the art festival in her second year as principal.
“It was actually instituted many, many years ago … and then it had a hiatus,” Rogers said. “Last year was our first year of reinstating it.”
Drumline member Joey Imperial stressed how much he and the drumline enjoy participating in the art festival.
“We’re very happy to be here and hope to be back here next year, it’s just a great day,” Imperial said. “I think there’s just a lot of happiness.”
In addition to the drumline, Michigan Center High School leadership students and the Concord High School softball team were also present at the event.
“Our coach works here and she wanted us to get the experience and also have fun and know what she does every day and to give us experiences too,” Concord softball player Josie Williams said.
Those experiences benefit more than just the students.
“Watching those relationships build is another favorite,” Rogers said. “This day is a multi-purpose, multi-experience day and it’s pretty amazing.”
The student volunteers also gain from the festival.
“Even though we’re giving back to the community, we actually receive a lot more than what we give — even though that sounds a little selfish, but it’s true,” Imperial said. “We get to experience with the kids, just the happiness they bring us and the happiness we give them, it’s just all one big happy system.”
Helping with the festival means a lot to Michigan Center High School freshman Alize Tripp.
“It’s just an honor to get to come here and help because not everybody gets to do that,” Tripp said.