Miracles Come in All Sights, Sounds & Even SONGS!

With the start of the new year, New Horizons Academy (NHA) at Sara’s Garden was honored to share its Christmas miracle. Like the first Christmas, there was a Joseph, a Mary, shepherds, sheep, angels, and wise men. But there were also two crickets, 58 elves, eight tree decorators, three soloists, eight musicians, a cow, and Santa Claus, himself, all portrayed by over 100 special needs kids with a wide variety of abilities—singing, dancing, acting, and playing for very proud parents, grandparents, friends, and family members at Pettisville Missionary Church on December 11, 2018. For many of our young actors and actresses, this was the very first time that they had ever participated in a musical and the first time that they had ever shone like a star on the Christmas stage.

With over 650 people in attendance, this was the largest event that Pettisville Missionary Church had ever hosted with many people standing in the back and many, many cars parked in the grass. “Judging by the number of people that attended, I would say this event was something that was very important to our students and their families. The looks on the kids faces were priceless—they honestly all looked like they were having FUN! Thanks for giving the NHA community a night they will never forget!” shared NHA music teacher, Melissa Valentine.

Without Melissa, this Christmas miracle would not have been possible. Without all of her hard work, vision, dedication, and creativity, the show would not have gone on. It was her inspiration, her brain child. She found or created the absolute perfect role for each of our students’ abilities and personalities and corralled and coached over 100 of our special needs kids through the entire Christmas show. Melissa was truly our miracle worker!

As NHA speech/language pathologist Michelle Nagle shared after the performance, “I just wanted to say how absolutely AWESOME this musical was. Thank you, Melissa, for all your hard work. The students did great! I can’t tell you how many family members I heard gushing about the evening as I walked to my car. Monumental event. Thanks to everyone for supporting our kids and making this happen for them. I was moved to tears several times with pride.”

And she wasn’t the only one. Amy Boyer shared, “I might still be crying tears of joy!”

“I truly cannot believe what just happened. It was the most amazing performance I have ever seen. I am so proud of all the kids, and I absolutely cried!” explained NHA behavior specialist, Cortney Wagler. “Melissa, I cannot adequately express my utmost respect and amazement of what you put together. I had no idea it would be so incredible! Everyone did SUCH a fabulous job!”

If you missed this special Christmas show, Elflandia + Other Musical Masterpieces, check out our YouTube channel for your own special, encore performance (video link below).

Among our stars were—

  • Soloists—Tony Conti, Auron Tanksley, and Anne Deffenbaugh
  • Guitar, Ukulele & Autoharp Musicians—Austyn Schweinhagen, Sam Ellis, Noah Nagel, Holley Schackow, Caden Borton, Daymon Plassman, Omira Santillanes, Kyler Campbell, and Eli Warncke.
  • Tree Decorators—Austin Burns, Cadience Ramirez, Ryan Boyer, Zion Siefker, Lily Ringler, Ethan Pieper, Kamil Plaza, Joshua Schackow, and Ben Rickenberg.
  • Elves—Kendall Sickelbaugh, Nick Fish, Zoe Siefker, Austyn Schweinhagen, Jimmy Forrest, Moses Dominguez, Emma Martenies, Eric Spiller, Anne Deffenbaugh, Liz Reber, Kohen Wiechers, Aiyanna Gonzales, Cole Hicks, Danielle Tillson, Chance Zolman, Eli Saneholtz, Levi Bettinger, Orion Baily-Lacy, Darien Homan, Mark Jacobs, Molly Boylan, Sidney Munger, Syndel Barker, Collin Sintobin, Marcos Valderrama, Justin Tanksley, Cooper O’Neal, Julie Stiff, Carter Radzik, Christian Lee, Jaedyn Knight, Seamus Brookes, Taylar Alpaugh, Kyson Davidson, Bruce Babcock, Temperence Gillen, Axl McCarthy, Elizabeth Heberling, Joseph Green, Abbie Thomas, Raiden Bailey-Lacy, Izzy Armas, Dominic Petz, Breya Zolman, Isaiah DeFiesta, Grayson Shirah, Jace Magallanes, Aadon Riegsecker, Auron Tanksley, Tim Held, Josiah Acevedo, Jackson Moore, Nadia Hancher, Isaiah Canales, and Chase Thompson.
  • Humans—Caden Borton, Tony Conti, Omira Santillanes, Holley Schackow, Daymon Plassman, Kyler Campbell, Noah Nagel, Beaux Barrett, Ellisha Rodriguez, Hannah Engler, Cierra Flores, Luke Chambers, Jacob Triesel, Josh Parran, Joseph Schackow, and Sam Ellis.
  • Shepherds—Sidney Munger, Saul Gallardo, Zeke Beck, Chloe Ruhnke, Luke Zachrich, Jackson Burkholder, Jordan Light, Eli Warncke, and Shalian McCarley.
  • Nativity—Jaedyn Knight, Cole Hicks, Christian Lee, Ellisha Rodriguez, Danielle Tillson, Aiyanna Gonzales, Luke Chambers, Hannah Engler, Cierra Flores, Beaux Barrett, Joey Schackow, Jacob Triesel, and Josh Parran.

No matter what you have been told, there is hope…hope and Christmas miracles. New Horizons Academy at Sara’s Garden may be able to help you and your child find hope in the classroom, in school, and yes, even on the Christmas stage!

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