Tuesday, July 30, 2013

HER School Now

Guest Post by Parent Jennifer Arnold
Nearly three years ago, I stood in the Madonna School parking lot trying to coax my daughter out of the car. It was her first visit to Madonna. While she had agreed to visit the school earlier that morning, she suddenly was overcome with anxiety and fear. She was (still is) a very determined young lady with rigidity ruling her world. And this was not her school, she said.
Finally, after several minutes of negotiation, she walked with me to the front door where we were greeted by the welcoming smile of former Madonna Principal Dr. Bill. Elise hesitated but stepped in the building. She wouldn’t look at Dr. Bill or anyone we met as we walked to Ms. Jablonski’s classroom. As we turned the corner into the room, several bright, happy faces looked up and immediately welcomed Elise to their school. The students surrounded her with hellos and “would you like to sit by me.” This was something she had never experienced before. Typically it was just the opposite. Her face lit up, and I remember her turning to me and saying, “Bye mom, see you later.” She was off — and we’ve not looked back.
Today, Elise is getting ready to start her third school year at Madonna.
She is a happy 13-year-old with wonderful friends and more social activities than her high school-age brother. She played the piano in the school’s spring program, sang last year in the school choir and participated in Special Olympics basketball, swimming and track — all experiences she never would have had if she hadn’t gotten out of the car that spring morning.
The Madonna School is a special place filled with the most wonderful teachers, staff and students. We feel so fortunate to have a school like Madonna available in our community — and for our daughter. While Elise struggles with some of the challenges of autism, today she is growing into a confident young lady who giggles with her friends, is proud to tell me she did “great” on her spelling test and loves to go to her school every day.
This is my first time I have helped with Madonna’s Celebration event. As I’ve talked with people in the community about a donation for the silent auction, it’s been a pleasure to share why Madonna is just a special place. Some people are quite familiar with Madonna and others are not. But so many are eager to help and thanks to their generosity we have secured nearly 300 items for the silent auction this year, including:
·         An American flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol  
·         Numerous gift certificates to museums or family fun parks, salons, golf courses, etc.
·         Works of art local artists and many Madonna students.
The list of items is too lengthy to include here. So plan to join us on Aug. 24 to see for yourself — and to celebrate Madonna School and Workshop and all the people who make it so special.

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