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Tuesday
May072019

Workshop and Concert at the Secret Academy 

I have had the most extraordinary day.
I was booked by a Storytelling Festival committee in Oak Ridge, Tennessee to pioneer a new program for their City’s school system. They have a special school within a school called the Secret Academy for children who are failing both educationally and at life, often because of very disruptive home situations. The young people frequently get into trouble because of adverse reactions to those pressures. These are the kids who never have recitals or concerts for their adults to attend because they never take part in those kind of programs.
The incredibly kind and caring Storytellers and Educators in the City decided to change that paradigm. They hired me hold a concert for 6th through 10th graders consisting of personal stories that the students had developed that day - quite a challenge!
Starting at 8.00am I taught a three hour workshop followed by brief lunch and an afternoon workshop. Then we gathered together for a quick dress rehearsal before the concert. 
I
t was a magic - if exhausting day!
The headmaster was amazed at what went on in the workshops leading up to the concert. The students, who usually have short attention spans were fully engaged in the story exercises and the preliminary sharing of stories. They then developed their main stories, told them to each other and then told them to the class. He let me know afterwards that some of the students that got up in front of their peers and shared personal stories never usually open their mouths in class. He was astounded to see how they participated. 
There were heart-rending stories, hilarious stories, and stories that made you wonder how these young people had survived. And those stories worked their magic. The bonding, support, and understanding that grew and then flowed in those workshops was palpable. 
The Storytelling Committee organized and sponsored a hearty pasta dinner before the evening concert. Not all the students could make it back to school in the evening, but the ones who did were excellent. We supplemented their tales with stories from a teacher and the headmaster. Both who did a  fabulous job. And I rounded out the day with some of my stories.
The Storytellers and Educators were all thrilled with the result. And I sloped off at the end of the event exhausted but exhilarated, once again amazed at the power of story to touch and transform lives. 

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