In 1982 -- and I was 29 years old then -- I created the musical "On the Other Side of the Fence" to provide the framework for the children from the HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy and Germantown Friends School to come together as partners. Through the metaphor in the music, I attempted to create a vehicle for the children from both schools, from both sides of the fence, to come to see and understand each other as fellow human beings who are different and yet in many ways so much the same.
The musical is constructed in a specific way to feature every child, but always with the group being supportive throughout the entire piece. The musical has built into it a flexibility to allow for spontaneity, change, surprises, and contributions from the children.
Over the years, I created a series of musicals, all with the purpose of teaching tolerance. Whether animals were on two sides of the fence, different fabrics on shelves, fish in the sea, Haliens from Halley's Comet, the musical project grew and grew dramatically, with input and interest coming in from every person and every department from both schools. I have worked closely with so many amazing people, teachers, therapists, staffs from both schools who have brought their expertise and talent to this unique program. And many of the core group from HMS are here today, people that have been with this project from the very beginning and who I love very much.
Chris Coy is not here. Mindy Olimpi, who -- I have to tell you about Mindy. Mindy is right here. Mindy, you have to orchestrate the scheduling, the buses, the support staff. A child needs to be fed. All of the really difficult backstage kind of work, Mindy has been doing this for all these years, just an amazing, amazing person.
Mary Duffy, choreographer, movement specialist. Aiko Phan, who you might know. She does a yearly art show at the HMS School that you should really come over to the HMS School and see what kind of work she does with the students from HMS.
Annie Oberfield, thank you for being here today. Charlie Harris, and Diane Gallagher, the principal from the HMS School, who has embraced our efforts to maintain this project year after year.
Teresa Maebori, who when I first sat down with her in 1982 at the piano and I sang the song "Good Friends," we never knew that, my goodness, we would be here 30 years later with the same project, along with other teachers and staff and principals from Germantown Friends School, Audrey Berman, the lower school principal, Kim Lewis, and Dick Wade, the Head Master of GFS was here. It was wonderful for him to be here today.
There are children here today from HMS School and Germantown Friends School representing all the children who have participated in the musicals over 30 years.
Johanna Greeson, thank you so much for being here. She's representing the first production in 1982 of "On the Other Side of the Fence."
A documentary is now in development called "On the Other Side of the Fence," led by award-winning producer Henry Nevison, who is over there, and MiND-TV of Philadelphia. And this film will look at the musical as a tolerance-teaching vehicle, and it will feature the HMS and GFS children as they experience the musical process while getting to know each other. And the film will also look at how this musical has begun to reach out to thousands of children across the country with similar objectives.
Our project is really the model. It's the example that hopefully everyone else will be able to utilize so that we can bring more diverse groups together and there can be more understanding and more friendship.
Thank you so much for this honor and for recognizing the importance of this musical and teaching tolerance project. And I just want to end with a little music, the first verse of "Good Friends," and of course, how appropriate, Germantown Friends School, this is for everyone.
You guys ready?