Ability Showcase hands the mic to exceptional children

May. 28, 2014 @ 11:20 AM

Looking down at the floor and clenching his fists, 18-year-old Jerry Hickman Jr. from Hibriten High School stood before the microphone, still as stone before the small crowd at a talent show Tuesday. But when the music came on, Hickman broke into song in a low voice full of Southern twang as he sang “The Trouble with Women” by Scotty McCreery.

His father, Jerry Hickman Sr., sat in the back row with tears glistening in his eyes. To see his son perform in front of strangers is a rare feat. Hickman said it was the first time his son had performed in front of a crowd outside of church choir.

“I get emotional sometimes,” Hickman said.

It was just part of the first Ability Showcase for students in Caldwell County Schools’ exceptional children’s program. A handful of students performed along with CDs to their favorite songs, like 8-year-old Ben Carlton of Gamewell Elementary School, who had the crowd clapping along to “Happy” by Phennell Williams. Others read from their favorite book or played an instrument.

Outside the small room of the talent show at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center, booths were set up with a silent auction, homemade crafts, jewelry, face painting and other activities to raise money for specific schools and the exceptional children’s program. Elizabeth Norris, behavioral specialist for Caldwell County Schools, said that the profits will fund activities for special activities that are not prescribed by a physician as necessary in the classroom. A fundraiser like the Ability Showcase brings in money for new, innovative gadgets and programs like yoga that the classrooms have never experienced before.

Tracey Holton, autism and behavioral specialist for Caldwell County Schools, said she hopes the event will become an annual “positive activity.”

“So many of our kids are so talented,” Holton said. “There’s nowhere else they can get that recognition, except the classroom.”