The stage is set

George Washington High School will host a talent show that will feature performances and art from approximately 70 to 80 individualized needs students.

A special performance: George Washington High School is hosting its 15th individualized needs talent show on Feb. 1, where kids will sing, dance and show off their art for friends and family. LOGAN KRUM / TIMES PHOTOS

When the yellow curtain rises at George Washington High School this Thursday, students in the school’s individualized needs program will be able to show off months of hard work.

The school is hosting its 15th individualized needs talent show, where kids will sing, dance or show off their art for friends and family.

Individualized need students make up a significant portion of the school’s student body, with about 70 or 80 students set to perform this year. Teacher Michele Sorkin-Socki, who has ran the show all 15 years, said the students have been preparing since Thanksgiving.

“Even though I see them every day, I still cry when I see them on stage,” she said. “They’re so proud and saying, ‘I did it.’ ”

She said it’s also an emotional day for parents, who get to see their kids who may not be good at communicating sing or perform on stage.

All individualized needs students will participate in the show in some capacity, whether they are taking to the stage or passing out playbills at the door.

This year, the show will be presented by Angel Rosa, a junior who is familiar with getting crowds excited. Last year, he donned the school’s eagle mascot costume to get the audience excited. This year, he looks forward to passing the spotlight onto his friends.

“I know how to get the crowd hyped and calmed down,” he said. “I’m excited to see the kids just starting in high school sing. It makes me real proud they want to be involved in something.”

Students are given the majority of creative control over their performances, from picking the song to choreographing their own dances. They rehearse several times a week, and students from other classes are invited to come to rehearsal to cheer the performers on.

For two years in a row, junior Sabrina McLean performed interpretive dance to the song Never Would Have Made It by Marvin Sapp.

“I like the experience of gospel and dancing and thinking about God,” said McLean, who is also a representative for the school’s Special Olympics program. She said her teachers and classmates were in the audience, and someone told her the performance made them tear up when she was done.

This year, McLean will also be stepping aside from the spotlight and will serve as an announcer, and said she’s excited other students will get the opportunity to perform.

Students who don’t want to get up on stage will have their artwork hanging from the curtains or displayed in a PowerPoint during the show. There will also be a few group numbers, which have included a line dance and a cha cha slide in the past. This year’s big closing number will be an emotional group performance of Stand By Me by Ben E. King.

“We make it as much about the kids as possible,” said Sorkin-Socki. She said at rehearsal the kids chose the order of performances and have adamantly stuck to that order each time, even if she tries to mix it up.

The show will take place Thursday, Feb. 1, at 10 a.m. for friends and parents in the school’s theater. ••