From early childhood, everyone knew that Alexis Magill would do well in life. She was a dynamo, quite bright and very willing to stand up for herself and what she believed in. She was — and will always be — a force to be reckoned with.
The faculty and staff at Coral Reef High School learned that when Magill wanted to create a music therapy program called Special Melodies to work with the special education department at school.
“I’ve been doing it for two years. I was planning it for four years,” she says. “I was fighting for it since my freshman year and finally got it in my junior year. It’s thriving in my senior year.”
She has already ensured the program will continue, as the club has already held elections for next year’s officers.
“We work with special needs students,” Magill says. “It’s more than therapy. We also have jam sessions. It’s nothing very strict.”
Magill says the program enriches the lives of the special needs students because it gives them something extra to live for.
“It’s another thing these kids have after school because their schedule is school and home,” she says.
Magill teaches them how to read and write music and even taught one student how to play the piano.
Magill is the Coral Reef High School nominee for the Silver Knight in the Music and Dance program. Next year she will attend the University of Florida to study for a career in early childhood education and special education. She then plans to get a master’s degree in speech pathology.
“I want to go into teaching and see where that goes and eventually end up in speech pathology,” she says. “I considered going into music therapy. I wanted to originally go into music therapy, but loved the special ed.”
She has chosen that career path because she loves working with people and she wants to help kids who have special needs.
This summer Magill volunteered at the Our Pride Academy near the Miami-Dade College campus and the Kendall Speech and
Learning Center. “I worked with students with Down’s Syndrome,” she says.
“I worked with speech pathology; I love how you can see the progress.”
She also did music therapy with the kids. She is in the orchestra program at Coral Reef and plays viola, guitar and piano.
“Viola is my main instrument,” she says.
For three years, Magill was in the Greater Miami Youth Symphony. The symphony gives seasonal concerts and a community concert. She is also president of Best Buddies. The club works with Coral Reef’s special ed program, which is one of the largest in Miami-Dade County. The club has 50 peer buddies, 25-30 associate members and 50 buddies.
“For the school best buddies, every Friday we have lunch,” Magill says. “We have once a month out-of-school events. We typically have a free event. You hang out with your buddy, but you make sure you see them at least once a week on Friday.”
Best Buddies is so important to her that when she goes to college one of the first things she plans to do is sign up for the UF Best Buddies program.
The buddy she’s worked with for two years is non verbal, so she helps him with writing letters and producing sounds.
“He said my name once and it was like a miracle,” she says. “It was a special thing. It was so moving for me.”
By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld