My students in Outdoor Ambassadors, a youth group focused on environmentalism and leadership skills, decided to hold a talent show to fundraise money for community projects and future activities. We have been discussing and planning this show since the beginning of the school year in September. The show was originally planned for the beginning of January, but the students did not use their time correctly over the winter break to plan so we had to postpone the show until February. My site-mate Chuck and I wanted this show to be a student-run operation, so we gave the students some guidance, but left most of the decision making, planning, and preparation up to them. They wrote the program, found performers to partake in the show, made and sold tickets, decorated the auditorium, and coordinated with everyone to make sure the show happened. We helped push them along the way and make sure that they were adhering to deadlines, but in the end the students ran the entire show.
The show was focused on promoting environmental awareness in our community. The performers spoke with the audience about the importance of throwing away garbage, reducing pollution by riding bikes or walking, the effects of smoking on the environment, etc. We also had several other performances such as singing, bands, and dancing. It was a very dynamic show with fourteen different acts. The students really put in a lot of work to make sure the show was interesting for the audience. I also created this video to show the garbage problem in our community to persuade people to begin taking an active role in keeping their city clean.
It was quite the learning experience for all of us. The students got a taste of new and different leadership roles; they did not have prior experience planning and running a show. Not going to lie, much of the planning was chaotic. The students were confused about what roles everyone had and who were supposed to do which tasks. This meant that things often did not get done when they were originally planned. They ended up pulling it together with the proper amount of direction and time.
They began holding rehearsals several weeks before the show. The first initial rehearsals consisted of a lot of confusion and arguing, but things began to have more of a flow and consistency after a few tries. Still things were a bit rocky all the way up to the day before the show, so the students decided to hold one last rehearsal before the final show today and that is where the true madness begins…
Here is a breakdown of the day.
9am: Students begin arriving at the auditorium for rehearsals. Most of the students do not arrive until around 9:20am. Some other random students decide to skip school and attend the rehearsals as well.
9am-9:30am: The group starts decorating the auditorium with balloons. The balloon project does not get finished until around 10:30am. We had less than 40 balloons…
9:30am: Still waiting for most of the student participants to arrive. The power in all the building goes out. We have no lights in the auditorium.
10am: The power is still not back. The students are starting to panic. Everyone is using their phone lights to navigate through the pitch-black room. People are trying to change into costumes, put on makeup, and practice before the performance.
10:20am: The lights are still out in the auditorium, but power has come back to the rest of the building. We try to figure out what the problem is with the lights in the auditorium and supposedly the lights in the auditorium are connected to a separate generator that is part of a different breaker of a surrounding village. Very confusing situation.
10:40am: Still no power. Haven’t been able to start rehearsals. Now students who bought tickets begin to show up… over an hour early. They expect to be let into the auditorium, but I refuse because we still do not have light and still haven’t begun rehearsals.
11:20am: No lights still. The show is supposed to start at 12pm. The students (and myself) are really starting to stress out. The students who aren’t stressed are messing around in the darkness. People keep saying “Inshallah” or “God-willing” in hopes that the lights will return soon.
11:30am: The students from the high school are let out from school early. Over 300 tickets were sold. Hundreds of kids are standing outside the auditorium and trying to get inside. I was afraid there was going to be a stampede.
11:40am: The police arrive to help control the crowd. People are getting anxious all around. I am running around trying to calm everyone down and get everything together for when the lights come on. They tell us the lights should be back soon. They have been saying this for a while.
11:50am: The lights come back on!!! We begin letting students into the auditorium. It’s madness. Students without tickets are trying to enter and some of the Albanian adults are letting them in anyways, despite the fact that they don’t have a ticket.
11:55am: The auditorium is completely full – past capacity. Everyone is running around backstage trying to get everything together to start.
12:05pm: We begin the show without any rehearsals or preparation. The show must go on! Everyone was a bit nervous, but began to calm down as the show started.
12:15pm: I helped backstage with the music and technology. Sadly, since we did not have time to check the sound before there were some problems. The music was on way louder than the microphones, but everyone still did a great job. I accidently played the wrong song at first for the first singers, whoops.
12:30pm: The students’ energy backstage was so cheerful. All the students were cheering each other on and taking videos/pictures. Everyone practically forgot we didn’t even get to rehearse.
1:30pm: The show finished and I could breathe again. We celebrated with a big group cheer and group hug after dancing the finale to the “We are the World” song. It was a very happy moment.
Despite all the problems that we faced throughout the day, the students pulled off a wonderful show all on their own. They planned it. They implemented it. They did it all. I can’t explain how proud I was the moment that it began. It was such a crazy day, but totally worth it. The students made close to $400 for future community projects with the youth center and our city. They are such amazing leaders. I don’t know how I will ever leave them…