I'm quite, quite sad to report that this week marked the end of my experience as a Writer in Residence at New Westminster Secondary School. I took on this gig when the amazing writer Meg Tilly moved away, and generously recommended me to teacher-librarian Sarah Wethered.
[Ed. Note: The photo of the school here is the only unaltered one of this posting -- all the others have been adjusted to obscure the kids' faces.]
It was a sweet gig from the start -- amazing teachers to work with [Traci Cave and MJ Hunt, along with Sarah] and creative, funny, talented kids [primarily Ms. Cave's senior drama class and Ms Hunt's Creative Writing class]. Together we worked on the 'Rock Solid' project -- an anti-bullying dramatic production put on by the students of N Dub Secondary for kids in the feeder schools of the area.
I spent most of my time with MJ's creative writing teams who were putting their ideas on paper, taking the idea of bullying and letting it play out using themes including homophobia, racism, mysogeny and more.
The resulting plays were fantastic, and I was lucky enough to get to watch a couple of performances at Queensborough Middle School.
I spent half my time with my eyes on the production and the other half watching the audience. I was blown away by the way these young men and women magically combined the power of the written word and the power of performance. The audience of young students sat spellbound. They laughed. They gasped. And yes -- they even cried.
The authors' words carried power, with conviction and clarity. The actors' skills took the ideas and philosophies expressed in the plays and gave them dimension and humanity.
The dedication and hard work of these playwrights and actors translated into something amazing to watch. The plays' inner themes of friendship, solidarity, and kid power rang through to the hearts of the audience. The messages you passed on against bullying, racism and homophobia were powerful and resonan.
I'm so proud and honoured to have had a chance to work with the teachers and students of NWSS. I spent some time with a few other classes, as well, and we shared ideas and conversation and a whole lotta gory, grotesque history, as is my wont. The whole experience has given me very fond memories of the school and the kids and teachers who give it heart.
Thanks for having me, N. Dub!