Pashky persisted and--after showing the director a videotape of the group's performance at a Very Special Arts Festival--secured her students a place on the spring program.
About 600 parents, teachers and students attended the event that year. And when members of the Saticoy Dance Company took a bow, nearly all of them stood to applaud.
"I was just so thrilled," Pashky recalled. "And afterwards, the kids were so proud of themselves. They thought they had really done something spectacular that all those people would stand up and clap."
Said Denise Vail Lapp, executive director for the California chapter of Very Special Arts, "I think it is incredibly important that arts are available to kids and adults. Culture is who we are, it's what we are. Sometimes we can't describe something, but we can get on a stage and perform it. And when it comes to people with disabilities, sometimes it's their only means of communicating."
Vail Lapp fondly recalls the story of an 8-year-old autistic child who uttered her first words at a Very Special Arts festival five years ago.
"The Fonz, the Fonz," she squealed upon spotting Henry Winkler, the star of the former hit television series, "Happy Days."
Montero is confident that the international festival in Washington will hold the same allure for her daughter, Barbara.
"At this age," Montero said, "to be performing at the Kennedy Center, to go to the White House and meet the President, she will never forget this trip."