Arts4All Florida is pleased to announce Katie Yaques and April Tucciarone as the November 2018 Students of the Month.
13-year-old Katie Yaques, who attends the Florida Autism Center in Tallahassee was nominated by her music teacher, Amanda Broadfoot from Making Light Productions where she currently participates as a cast member. The Making Light Productions Mainstage cast is and inclusive cast of special needs students that work alongside typical peers to produce a musical production.
“Katie is the kindest, hardest working student I know. She is living proof that autism needn’t hold a child back from participating in something they love. Watching her natural gifts flourish and grow with her practice and lessons has been a blessing for me as a teacher.” writes Ms. Broadfoot.
Katie has been studying voice and piano for four years and spends most days after school honing her skills by participating in group and private performing arts lessons. The payoff has been sweet this year when she took home High Gold ratings at the Access Broadway regional musical theatre competition.
Ms. Broadfoot adds heartfelt accolades by sharing, “[Katie] works so hard, has come so far and serves as an inspiration to so many who know her.”
21-year-old April Tucciarone, who attends the Clearlake BLAST program at Clearlake Learning Center in Cocoa, Florida was nominated by her classroom teacher, Veronica Marren. “April’s shyness and developmental delays have not stopped her from challenging herself to learn new things”, April’s mother, Jennifer Tucciarone states. Well stated, as we have learned!
With an evident song in her heart, April began playing the piano when she was in first grade and has continued to pursue and share her passion through middle and high school choral programs. While in high school, April incorporated her musical talents into a multimedia, creative geography project which can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9sqIuYNNDE.
“Piano has helped April with fine motor skills, tracking, speaking, listening, reading, focusing and planning”, says Ms. Tucciarone. “But most of all, learning to play the piano is a lifelong skill that has built confidence in April.”
Currently, April is a participant in the BLAST transition skills program and successfully participates in community-based vocational education and in the LEAP volunteer job training programs. She takes part in Special Olympics bowling and frequently attends dances for adults with disabilities at her local Parks and Recreation Club. “It is a pleasure discovering hidden talents of our team members”, Mrs. Marren writes in her enthusiastic nomination of April for Student of the Month.
The Arts4All Florida Student of the Month Program is designed to increase public awareness and recognize the impact arts make on students with disabilities statewide. Students who participate in the arts develop creativity, have increased self-confidence, understand teamwork, have increased language and math skills and are generally more engaged.