Monday, August 16, 2010

One Day

I'm often told, "Mel, you're changing children's lives."

And I always answer, "They're changing my life."

This is true and I'm not ducking the compliment. What these children are learning and doing for themselves in The Shakespeare Club cannot be underestimated. I'm proud of my commitment and every year impressed by what we accomplish.

I ran into Luis one afternoon on the campus. Luis played Andrew Aguecheek in last year's production of "Twelfth Night." He was in the club for three years and is now in sixth grade at the middle school up the street.

"Luis!" I gushed.

"Hey, Ms. Ryane."

He did not gush. Luis was a little shy with me, as if all we'd been through was a distant memory. That's how time floats by when you're a kid. Summer vacations are endless and by Labor Day your pants are too short. For Luis his time onstage was eons past.

I gave him a quick hug anyway and said, "I miss your acting, Luis."


"How's sixth grade?"

"It's okay, I guess."

"You get a locker, right?"


"How's it going with the reading?"

"I'm reading more, like you told me."

"Great!" more gushing from me. I was thrilled that he remembered something of my influence.

I figure it'll hit them one day, someday when they're about thirty-eight. They'll think, There was this crazy lady and I did Shakespeare and I was...hmmm...I was really, really good at it.

"You're tall, Luis. I see the inches. You're about as tall as Andrew Aguecheek now."

Luis laughed. "Yeah."

Good, got him.

"Keep up the reading, Luis. Come by on May 27 and see 'Macbeth'."

"Yeah, okay."

That wouldn't happen. He wouldn't be there to see the show. Maybe he forgot. Maybe his parents couldn't bring him. Maybe it would be too difficult to see other kids up there doing what he loved and did so well.

I was driving past the middle school another afternoon and saw Luis walking home with a group of lanky boys. Behind them I saw Geoffrey and his sister Kate. And further along a few others from years past. I wanted to roll down the window and shout "Shakespeare Club!" But that would have been dumb and they'd have been embarrassed.

So, sometimes I see them up close and sometimes I see them afar and always I remember each and every one and miss them.

I planted seeds. They've taken root and one day they'll remember.


What it means to be a best friend or have a best friend is to always do the right thing. For your friend and always help them. And to responsible of your friend is like if my friend was in trouble I would help them or if I was in trouble he would help me.
Garth, 4th grade

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