Five days ago, six staff from Heartwood Theater group met us for the first time and just two hours ago they were saying good bye to the cheers and hoots from the middle school students here at AVS. What a ride it has been!

It truly has been an outstanding experience for our community. Our students were put to the test with themes such as, teamwork, creativity, expression, responsibility, respect, support, critique, stretching one's comfort zone, pride, projection, etc... They were frustrated, struggling, wondering, tired, energetic, etc...  And all of this was delivered to them in the form of a play. What a plan.

These five days have been about the process of this sort of creative work. It was new to them, challenging to them, eye opening, powerful, inspiring, and rewarding. They had they questions, they needed to develop the tools to be able to answer these questions, they needed to use creativity to answer these questions and they needed the support and guidance to answer these questions. This is what Heartwood gave them. May of them do not see all that they have been through in this short time frame but as a watcher from within it has been a great experience for me to see these students rise to the occasion and feel good about their work.

As a sat in the audience for their final performance I heard from parents whose children had struggled with the experience and I heard from parents whose children loved the opportunity to have input, control and the time and support for them to use their creativity. 

"They didn't tell us what to do", "They said that there wasn't a right way or a wrong way do to it." As a student that can be intimidating if you are not use to having the freedom in your learning to explore for yourself. They craved structure. Give them lines and a place to stand to deliver those lines and they will be happy. 

But if you ask them to create a feeling using motion and visual and audio cues where does that leave them? They truly have to use all their knowledge to deliver the answer to that question. And the real kicker is that there isn't even a "right" answer to the question. There are as many possibilities as there are ideas and many students were excited to be able to share their ideas and interests in creating the play

How would you make a polar bear die on stage? Not an easy task. I would struggle on just getting a polar bear on stage in the first place.  It was this sort of learning, problem solving and creative work that our students were doing for five days.  It resulted it a grand production of The Arctic Journey. One that they can be proud of as they look back on that "ice play thing" that they did in middle school this year. 

Hats off to all involved and thanks for the experience I loved it.
What a day!  
We have had an outstanding time today with our first day of the residency with Heartwood Regional Theater Company and our middle school students.
I have been looking forward to this experience for our students and school as a whole and today it got started with a bang.  

As the day began I had a few 8th graders who were questioning the prospect of having to be a part of a play production and in one hour Heartwood had us all on board and headed into work on some choreography for a dance scene. I was thrilled with Heartwood's opening act as an intro to the fun and comfort of the up coming week. They showed us what fun could be had if you are willing to participate and give some of you to the act. With this in mind I was pleased with our student's ability to push their comfort level right from the start. They stepped up in a major way. 

By the afternoon they had a dance routine well on its way, a comfort with the props and costumes, and were reciting poetry that will become the backbone of the tale.

As the day ended with a moment on the floor breathing and reflecting on how far we had come, we celebrated with the giggles and laughter of a middle school on a Friday afternoon after an amazing day. 

Thanks Heartwood and thanks students for this marveloup day in education. Looking forward to the week.