At last Friday’s homecoming game, Wil and five choir companions formed a half circle in front of a microphone. The spectators, packing the stands, rose with hats and hands placed over hearts. The perfectly uniformed Manchester marching band spanned the field behind the semi-circle of singers and began their patriotic play. I held my breath.
The stands full of spectators would not challenge Wil’s nerve (he likes to be on stage!) It would be the volume of the band; he becomes un-nerved with loud, unpredictable noises such as the cymbals. During practice rounds, when the cymbals were up, Wil was out.
Kristi Campbell called me to form a plan (thank God for amazing paraprofessionals!). Though Wil has made vast progress in his tolerance for loud noises, the chance of him fleeing the situation still wasn’t 0%. We both wanted Wil to shine; of his own will. So Kristi said she’d stand nearby, but unobtrusively. I said I’d take a spot in the front row of the stands (I wanted a front seat anyway!).
When the band played and the choir sang, it was flawless. Jacob Mann conducted the band forward — as he did a conductor’s walk backward. Mr. Throneberry conducted the semi-cirlce of singers. Wil smiled and seriously recalled his lyrics — I even detected some of his high notes over the microphone.
It was beautiful, inspiring and right on note (Wil may have been a few beats behind in places, but that’s right on note too). I’m so very proud of Wil, and I couldn’t more proudly have hail’d the way our town comes together!