CAMANCHE — Very few high school students have the opportunity to watch as their creativity and artistry blossom on a theater stage in front of them, but on May 9, that fantasy will come true for one Camanche student.
Nathaniel Melvin, or “Nate the Great” as he’s affectionately known by students and faculty at Camanche High School, had an inspiration to write a play based on his favorite stories of detectives Sherlock Holmes and Scooby-Doo. That inspiration carried even further when he received support from not only his teacher Sarah Erwin and the school’s theater director Aaron Westrum, but the entire student body and faculty of the school.
What makes it even more unique is that Melvin isn’t the average 17-year-old high school student. As a child he was diagnosed with autism with complications in sensory and pervasive development. His mother, Regina, explained that when she found out about his condition, doctors told her that he would never function as a normal adult, maybe not even learning to walk or talk.
Now he is defying those odds as a highly functioning high school student who’s about to direct and narrate his very first play.
”Autism is such a huge umbrella,” Regina said. “I consider him high functioning because he is able to take care of his daily needs, because there are kids who can’t speak at all. He will never be able to drive a car or hold down a regular job so this is really something very special for him.”
Nate is doing much more than speaking now. He is inspiring his fellow students and commanding a nine-member cast to make his play exactly how he sees it in his head. He’s also using his love of Holmes and Scooby Doo as guidelines for how he expects the performance to unfold.