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Volunteers inspiring West Jordan middle school students on stage

WEST JORDAN — Even just walking into West Hills Middle School, you can tell the students here are special.

On stage this night: a performance of “Singing in the Rain.”

Backstage, the students seemed anything but nervous, even with the line wrapping outside the door.

“This year is my first huge big role, and it’s so fun,” ninth-grader Savannah Walker says.

In just nine weeks, the 96 cast members say they’ve become a family.

It’s a family fostered by director and choreographer Judy Binns and producer Clarisse Offen.

“I mean they don’t even get paid for this, and they come up with it all in their heads. It’s amazing what they do,” eighth-grader Logan Brown says.

Mothers Judy and Clarisse have been volunteering countless hours of their lives for six years now.

“From November until now she and I are pretty much. It’s like a full time job.”

Even after their kids moved on to high school, they still can’t get enough. And the kids feel the same way about them.

“They put so much work into this play. You don’t even imagine how amazing this whole entire thing has turned out. Like I’m even wowed by how great it is,” Savannah says.

Judy and Clarisse consider it a privilege to help shape the students’ lives both on stage and off.

“I just feel like I can interact with people so much more. They’re so amazing,” seventh-grader Megan Farnsworth says.

“This provides them a place where they can come be themselves, find friends, be safe, express themselves, be loved, feel supportive, and make friends and feel like they belong, so when they move on to high school they’ve learned those skills and they’re ready to rock it and continue to rock it,” Clarisse says. “So this is where it starts.”

Their dedication is deserving of a High 5 — or better yet, a standing ovation.

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