Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Parting Well-Made

A few years ago, a wise co-op partner of mine read to our co-op Act 5, Scene 1 from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.  I love that play, and I thought it was such a fitting way to close co-op on the final day of Workshop.  Every year since, I have read to my delegates a part of that play.  For those of you who are unfamiliar, it goes like this:


    No, Cassius, no: think not, thou noble Roman,
    That ever Brutus will go bound to Rome;
    He bears too great a mind. But this same day
    Must end that work the ides of March begun;
    And whether we shall meet again I know not.
    Therefore our everlasting farewell take:
    For ever, and for ever, farewell, Cassius!
    If we do meet again, why, we shall smile;
    If not, why then, this parting was well made.


    For ever, and for ever, farewell, Brutus!
    If we do meet again, we'll smile indeed;
    If not, 'tis true this parting was well made.


    Why, then, lead on. O, that a man might know
    The end of this day's business ere it come!
    But it sufficeth that the day will end,
    And then the end is known. Come, ho!

 I outlined my favorite part in bold.

I read this passage and then tell my delegates that in everything we do over the final few hours should be done in pursuit of a parting well-made.

I am happy to report that the parting was well-made.  We spent our final hours taking pictures, exchanging hugs, and signing shirts and autograph books.

Why, then, lead on. O, that a man might know 
The end of this day's business ere it come!
But it sufficeth that the day will end,
And then the end is known. Come, ho! away!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Night Four

After all the sitting that the banquet involves, we provide our students with a dance party.  Normally, I hate dance parties, but this one is actually quite fun.

It is a very PG-rated dance party and there are no slow songs.  We don't want to encourage anything.  It mostly involves jumping up and down and/or putting your hands in the air.

For our middle schoolers, though, much of the dance is spent standing back and watching their high school counterparts

Or just taking pictures and acting silly

And we prefer it that way.

Every year, the dance ends with the song "Lean On Me," and everyone stands around in a large circle and sways back and forth.  It sounds lame and awkward, but it really is a special part of the dance.  It's a great song that summarizes the quality of the friendships that have been made throughout the week.

After the dance, we sit everybody down to go on a "lion hunt."  It takes students on a wild lion hunt in which there are many obstacles to be overcome.

Goin' on a lion hunt
But I ain't afraid
'Cause I got my gun
And my courage on my side 

There is a lot of "walking" and "running"

There are "trees" to be "climbed,"

Muddy swamps to be crossed,

Ravines over which to be jumped,

Caves to explore,

And tall grass through which to navigate,

Among other things.

You might be wondering how the song ends.  Well...

Went on a lion hunt
But I wasn't afraid
'Cause I was "lion" the whole time.

They either love or hate that ending.

After one more song,

Reach out and touch
Somebody's hand
Make this world a better place
If you can

When we leave here,
We shall be able to reach out, reach out,
And touch one another,

the SLW kids do a ceremony called "Candles on the Hill" and the ALW kids do something similar called "Mirrors."  The JAMers exit to the Tiki Ra Kamayeh ceremony. Because this was my first year with JAM, it was my first experience with Tiki Ra Kamayeh.

The ceremony involves all of the JAMers and JAM staffers gathering in a rock garden where students are read the "Legend of the Tiki Ra."

Then, the story calls for the students to summon Tiki Ra Kamayeh... and it appears...

The narrator calls students up one by one where they receive a lei and a candle and get some face paint as a way to mark the occasion.  They then take up their candle and light it with the torch of the Tiki Ra Kamayeh and wait patiently until everyone's candle has been lit.

The analogy of fire and leadership is then explained to the students.  At NASC, we believe that being a leader can start with a single spark.  A person can take that spark and spread it to others, creating a beautiful, well-lit world; great leaders inspire others.  We hope to empower students to keep their fire burning throughout their school years and to help light the fire of leadership in others who are in their schools and communities.

Then, students are dismissed by co-op for a time of reflection.  I asked them some questions upon which to reflect and gave anyone who wanted it the chance to share their thoughts and feelings.  This is my favorite part of Workshop every year - to listen as students articulate their thoughts about leadership, their reflections of the week, and how they have been changed for the better.

Hearing their hearts moves me to tears every time.

When everyone is finished saying what they need to say, we encourage them to blow out their candles together.  They never want to blow them out, but they find comfort when we tell them that although their physical candles will be blown out, their figurative candles will remain burning brightly.

We then have students do a trust walk as we head back to our dorms.

Although all of my Mangos proved to be excellent leaders by the end of the week, it was fitting that David was the one to lead them back.  I won't share what he said during the candles reflection because it should remain a moment that is only theirs.  I will tell you, however, that this was the perfect way to illustrate what he said in his reflection.

Night four is always bittersweet.  They get to have fun at dinner and the banquet, they spend some time in reflection, and they anticipate the departure that will be happening the next day.  I remember so well being overwhelmed with emotion each and every night four when I was a delegate.  Although the emotion is different now as a staff member, it is still one of my most favorite parts of the week.

All Dressed Up

Another one of my favorite parts of Workshop is when we get all dressed up for what we call the DanQuet.  That's a combination of the words dance and banquet, if you hadn't already guessed.  We take a break from eating chicken patties in the Wayne State cafeteria and enjoy a catered meal of pasta, salad, and breadsticks.  Then, we have a dance party in the outdoor plaza.

Something really awesome has happened to me within the past few years.  I'm starting to have former students of mine attend Workshop.  When I see their names on the registration lists, it makes me exponentially more excited.  This year, Morgan and Andrea from Lux came.

Getting ready to head down to the banquet
Two of the nicest, smartest, most talented girls you'll ever meet!

We always arrive early to the banquet to get pictures of our co-ops.

The Mango men
The Mango ladies
The Mango JAMers
Our Mango family
Silly Mangos
The Kiwis
Silly Kiwis
The Watermelons
The Pineapples
Silly Pineapples
All of the JAMers
Our amazing JAM Staff family

At dinner, I had the privilege of sitting at the boy end of the table with these fine gentlemen:

The 50th anniversary roses provided for some fun photo opportunities.  I suspect they'll soon be used as Facebook profile pictures.

At the banquet, I was fortunate enough to engage in some very enlightening conversations about sports, girls, crushes, girls, future high schools, sports, and girls.  Oh, to be 13 again.  No, thank you.

Although the awards ceremony is boring for most of the students, it has become one of the week's highlights for me.  Because it was our 50th anniversary, staffers from years past were invited back for a reunion.  These were some of the pioneers of Workshop and NASC, and I felt humbled just to be in their presence.

The finale of the evening is always the Lux Award, which is the highest honor that NASC can bestow upon one of its staff members.  This year, the award went to Amy Batten, a good friend and mentor of mine.

Well-deserved and long overdue if you ask me.  I only regret that I didn't have a better camera with which to capture this moment.