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“Hairspray” Cuts It With Kids At GNAC

Arts Center class introducing the arts to children with special needs

Children with learning disabilities meet regularly at The Great Neck Arts Center for a unique class designed to introduce them to ceramics, painting, jewelry making, dance, film and other creative projects, while socializing with peers. But, when the class watched a screening of the 2007 movie Hairspray recently, they had an unexpected surprise.

Film star and Great Neck native Nikki Blonsky, who plays heroine Tracy Tumblad in the award-winning picture, paid them a surprise visit to discuss the movie with them. Following the film showing, she signed autographs and took pictures with the students.

The weekly class for the 16 to 21 year old students, “Dinner, Music and Art,” was created by special education instructor Brooke Greiff and assistant teacher Cindy Zubli. “We wanted to give students an opportunity to explore their creative side outside of a school environment,” Ms. Greiff said. It is believed to be the only integrated arts-based program for children with learning disabilities in an on-site arts environment.

 “This is the intersection between the arts and social services,” said Arts Center Executive Director Regina Gil. “It is another demonstration of how integral the arts are to all. The arts simply have an application for everyone.”

For further information about Arts Center special education classes, as well as a full range of courses for all ages in art, film, drama, music, and early childhood education, call The Great Neck Arts Center at 829-2570 or visit www.greatneckarts. org. The Great Neck Arts Center is located at 113 Middle Neck Road, above the Clearview Squire Cinemas, with a main entrance facing the Maple Drive municipal parking lot.