Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Circle Up



We close out every year of The Shakespeare Club with a wrap party, which the kids hear as "rap party."

"No, my little friends, we will not be celebrating the works of Jay-Z, Kanye, and Snoop Dogg....This is a wrap party, as in wrapping the year up with a nice big bow and partying down with William Shakespeare."

They hear PARTY.

The chairs waited in a large circle, where I would sit across the room from Rachel. A junk-food laden table waited for big eyes and little fingers. Journals with sharp pencils placed under chairs waited for farewell thoughts.

I paced the room to make sure all was in order. I took a big breath and planned what would be a wrap party different than those in the previous five years. There was much to be proud of, there was much to honor, and there was much to confess.

Twenty-eight pairs of feet stampeded into the auditorium, twenty-eight bottoms found their seats and twenty-eight voices giggled and screamed. They were still high on the performance success of a week earlier.

"Okay...all right...let's begin...."

My hands were on my lap, my feet flat on the floor, and within a minute they followed suit like a small army.

"Deep breath...hold it...hold it...hold it...exhale. This is our final meditation together; let's make it the best....Inhale...."

The shuffling stopped, eyes closed and peace reigned. I shot a wink at Rachel. We were a far cry from where we'd started five months ago.

Our school uses a communication practice known as "Council," developed twenty-five years ago by the Ojai Foundation as a tool to develop community exchange and empathy.

Council meets in a circle. Each participant holds a "talking piece" and comments on a stated intention. Our talking piece was our Shakespeare Duck.

"We're going to start our party with a gratefulness-and-goodbye Council."

The kids spoke of their pride in the production and their gratefulness to me and Rachel. The younger kids expressed how they would miss the ten fifth-graders moving on to middle school. I was the final commenter.

"I am grateful to all of you for your hard work, focus and commitment. Over the six years that I have been running Shakespeare Club, I have known many, many children and I remember every single one. And I will never forget any of you."

Shuffle shuffle, beam and blush. No one wants to be forgotten, ever.


"Now, I have to tell you something that is hard to say, but I wanted to tell you this myself. I am leaving Shakespeare Club. I have some writing projects I have to do and some traveling I want to do. It is sad for me to leave Shakespeare Club but it looks like Ms. Rachel will be taking over and that is a terrific and good thing."

The gasp was loud. Directly across the circle, Peter dropped his hat over his eight-year-old eyes and started weeping.

"But will you come and see us...and see our show?" Bailey cried.

"Of course. You couldn't keep me away."

Rachel handed tissues to Peter. He took them in his small hand, blew and kept his face covered as more tears dripped.

How to hug a circle of twenty-eight little bodies? How?


CHILDREN'S WRITES: A Journal Entry
What I learned from Shakespear club is about being funny and never tell another actor what to do. I learned about William Shakespear and how they used to speak in the olden times. What I loved about Shakespear is that always have fun with each other, and you have the courage to be silly.

I will rember that I was in Shakespear in 3rd and forth grade I will rember it for genurashen and genurashens. I'll miss you Ms. Ryane.
Krystal, 4th grade

2 comments:

  1. I hate that you are leaving Shakespeare Club even though you are leaving it in good hands. But I'm happy that you have to travel and have to do some writing projects. Surely you will keep us updated on a blog?
    Hugs.
    Well done, Mel. Well done.

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  2. 'Twas a hard decision, to be sure. Always updating.

    Have a Merry, Merry and a creative 2012!

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