Kids don’t forget incredible experiences. They don’t forget when you allow them to be incredible. They do forget the analogies you make in class, no matter how witty or insightful those quips might be. They do forget the metaphors you use, no matter how truthful and revealing they may be. They don’t forget incredible experiences.
I have previously written about the eighth grade sketch comedy show I have created at my school (called the “it” show). I have a post in draft form called “Cardboard Wizardry” that has been sitting dormant for several years because I lack the vocabulary to properly explain what makes this show work and why it is so special to the students, and to me as well. Perhaps I can not explain that, but I know this: when you create something with kids that you never thought possible and when you cast aside doubt and capitalize on enthusiasm – it sticks.
Four years ago tonight the best “it” show graced the stage at my school. Actually, it graced the stage extension, since we aren’t deemed good enough for use of the real stage. Despite the handheld mics, PA system made up of equipment I own, and lights that do not pan or change color and have two options (on or off) – these students delivered the best show I have ever seen. One hundred percent DIY, and they were (are) proud of it. So proud, in fact, that just a few hours ago, on the very anniversary of their show, fourteen days before they graduate high school – they came back to watch it in my classroom. Forty-five young adults, just days away from what will be a watershed moment in their lives, gathered in my classroom to reminisce and laugh and remember what we made together four years ago. I have never been so humbled in my life. By admission, many of these kids have not been in the same room with one another since they left middle school. They traveled in different circles in middle school and those circles widened dramatically in high school. But here they were, tonight, back in my class like nothing had changed. It was the best accolade I could ever receive – knowing that we made something so good that it brought us together years later.
I would be a fool to think that this kind of thing happens regularly or could be reproduced at any given moment in time. It takes more energy than I possess these days – my energy has been redirected to raising my daughters. Even if something like this could happen again, I don’t think I would want it to. Tonight belonged to these kids and our time. I am thankful I was able to create this with them. The cast and crew of the fifth it show broke the mould and the machine that makes it.