Brittany Maier and her mother Tammy Maier, of New York, waited at the center of the Newtown High School gymnasium on Friday, December 2, as high school students filled the bleachers. The young woman was seated to play a keyboard, and Ms Maier was ready with a microphone.
Newtown High School’s Best Buddies club hosted the schoolwide assembly, and Best Buddies members Sara Kennedy and Jessica Andreotta welcomed the gathered students to the event. The club is a chapter of Best Buddies International, a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Brittany, Sara and Jessica shared, was born premature, and lost her sight and was diagnosed with autism early on. Now Brittany plays music, and Sara said, “We are fortunate to have the opportunity to listen to Brittany today,” before chanting began to welcome the performer to NHS.
Ms Maier explained her daughter learned to play entirely on her own. No one shows Brittany how to play the piano, she said. Brittany also did not say a word until she was 10 years old, the same year she began composing music, but her mom said it was easy to know Brittany wanted to be an entertainer and to hear people cheer her on.
Brittany, with her mother singing along, played songs like “Hallelujah,” “Let it Go” from Disney’s movie Frozen, and Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” After the first song, students were welcomed to join Brittany and Ms Maier to sing-along.
When the mother-daughter duo began performing Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas is You,” a crowd of students joined in to sing and dance.
Ms Maier said she could tell NHS is a school that has “mastered inclusion” and reminded the assembly that Brittany needs help in everything she does, just like everyone else. With that, the last song of the assembly, “Lean on Me,” began.