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By Mya Weiss, DHS Senior and STN Contributor

This past weekend marked Dexter High School’s annual Homecoming dance, parade, and festivities. On top of the regular dance held in the Commons of the school, a new addition was also put in place for the first time this year. If you walked the halls of Dexter High School during the homecoming dance, you might have noticed a teacher standing outside of the library with a sign-up sheet for a Silent Disco being held inside. The purpose of a Silent Disco is to have a place where students of any variety, but especially those with higher needs, can have a more relaxed and sensory-friendly dance experience.

A Silent Disco is set up with three different headphones and music options to choose from. Each headphone has a light on it that is one of three colors and correlates to three different playlists. This allows you to choose the same music as your friends or something completely different. The headphones also include volume adjustments. This separate part of the dance was limited to fifty students at a time but was open to anyone. The addition of the Silent Disco was made possible by a grant funded by Dexter Education Foundation and organized by Dexter High School Junior, Tristin Snider.

It can be difficult for many students to be in a large group surrounded by so much noise during the typical version of a school dance. This is why Kalli Nowitzke, one of the resource room teachers at Dexter High School, was thrilled to help ensure the idea of adding a Silent Disco to the dance. Many of her students are either in wheelchairs or have physical limitations that make getting around the dance a difficult task. Other students experience sensory overstimulation which can also make the regular form of school dances pretty difficult. By adding a Silent Disco option, it alleviated some of those stressors and created a more cohesive and inclusive dance environment for everyone to enjoy.

On top of the Silent Disco, the Dexter Rotary Club paid for 30 of the SNAP (Students Need Accepting Peers) club students to have a Homecoming dinner together at Aubrees to promote inclusion. Through simple acts like these, kindness and acceptance is able to grow within our community. Everyone should be able to enjoy the festivities surrounding Homecoming, regardless of their differences, and that is becoming much more of a reality through changes like this. It is easy to think that little else can be done to improve accessibility and involvement, but anyone can improve the experience of those around them. Although the Silent Disco addition was a prominent way to diversify the dance and its participants, it is just one part of a larger goal to improve upon inclusivity and kindness within our schools and community.

Photo by Kalli Nowitzke

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