New center creates performance, educational opportunities | #Education

The center also provides a home base for the Penguin Project, Forsyth’s chapter of a national program that offers drama opportunities to special needs students. As FoCAL’s director, Phipps works closely with the Special Education division to involve students and parents in the project.

“There are only a couple of Penguin Projects in Georgia,” said Phipps. “We’re happy to have received grants from the district’s education foundation and the Forsyth County Arts Alliance to help with funding.”

The project has already lined up about 20 students with intellectual or physical disabilities to star in a junior version of the Broadway show “Annie” in March. Cast members are paired with age-appropriate peer-mentors who rehearse and perform alongside them on stage.

“The arrangement creates relationships, and develops cognitive and communication skills,” said Phipps. “We’ve had our first rehearsal, and it was so exciting to see how much enthusiasm there is. We’re also starting to hear some excitement from the community about the project as well.”

Information about the FoCAL center is online at

SEND US YOUR STORIES. Each week we look at programs, projects and successful endeavors at area schools, from pre-K to grad school. To suggest a story, contact H.M. Cauley at or 770-744-3042.

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