Loyola Academy Partners with Special Gifts Theatre to Create Student Mentor Program
Loyola Academy is pleased to announce a newly formed partnership with Special Gifts Theatre (SGT), a not-for-profit organization that was founded in 2000 to provide individuals who possess a wide array of special needs (physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and learning) the opportunity to experience the joy and enrichment that theatre arts can bring. Launched in September 2022, the SGT x LA Peer Mentor Program gives Ramblers the opportunity to work one-on-one with a Special Gifts Theatre buddy in our beautiful new McGrath Family Performing Arts Center.
“This partnership is the most beautiful combination of arts, service to others, leadership and fulfillment of our Jesuit mission,” says Executive Vice President Dennis Stonequist ’90.
The season opened on Tuesday, September 13, with a special red carpet entrance for the SGT actors, who were welcomed to Loyola’s Leemputte Family Theater by the Rambler Cheer Squad and student ambassadors. The program will continue through March and meets after school on Tuesdays, fostering inclusion as mentors and buddies work together to learn choreography and stage work and to develop a character for the final performance. Relationships are built that celebrate and honor creative differences while also developing new awareness about disabilities. That new awareness carries off the stage and is brought into our shared communities.
“The Loyola students are going to be outstanding peer mentors and I’m so excited to see their relationships with our students grow,” said SGT Executive Director Elise Larsen in an email to Loyola staff after the season opener.
Prior to the start of the program, Loyola student mentors received disability awareness training with one-on-one coaching and support with skill development in patience, empathy, compassion, leadership, and responsibility. Participating Rambler mentors include: Annabella Devine, Liam Gregg, Sean Gregg, Irene Haralampopoulos, Stavroula Konstantopoulos, Angela Leblanc, Morgan Mackie, Milannia Martin-Hayes, Margaret McGovern, Molly McKinley, Francie Orth, Caroline Petrillo, Karin Prince, Sofia Rosinski, Jane Rushin, Savannah Sochacki, and Peter Winslow.
We invite you to mark your calendars for the performance of “Seussical: The Musical” on March 4 and 5, 2023! “We know the play is a long way away, but we are excited to pack the house and see the SGT live in action,” adds Stonequist.
The mission of Special Gifts Theatre is to foster self-confidence, social, speech, and language skills in individuals with disabilities, using educational and therapeutic techniques with the stage as the platform, integrating creativity and fun. Learn more at https://specialgiftstheatre.org/.