Last night was the first ever Drama Banquet for my school. This is a big deal because the drama department had started to become an after thought for most of the kids at the school before last year when I started there. The fact that I have been able to get kids fired about about theatre in two years is just way cool.
Anyway, we had our banquet, it was small, under 40 people, but boy did we have a good time. I MCed the entire thing, because it was a first and I didn't want to try to train kids how to MC a banquet before the event. Now, keep in mind, I am a silly person not necessarily a funny person, so this must have been torture for some people, but they were kind and laughed with me (maybe they were laughing at me later, but at least not in front of me). We gave 7 awards, best actor and actress in each show, best cameo performances in the musical, tech awards and of course a Spirit of Drama award (more on that one), and of course everyone got an achievement award. We didn't want anyone to go home empty handed, we even gave one to the little blonde girl who until she asked if she could come I didn't know even though she eats lunch in my class everyday with the drama kids. Everyone had a great time.
Most of the awards are pretty self explanatory, but the Spirit of Drama, this is an award I created at my last school. Sometimes you have a kid who just completely embodies what being a part of the drama program is about. They are positive, always have something great to say to people, may not be involved with a show, but wants everyone to know what a good job they are doing and supports every one and every thing. They strive to build up people, not break people's spirit. They can find the good in every performance. That is what being a part of my drama department should be. I actually wish I could have given every kid in that room a Spirit of Drama award. This is one of the sweetest groups of teenagers I have ever worked with (and I have had some great kids over the years). They applauded everytime someone got their award, no one felt bad they didn't win, or at least they didn't act like it, these kids even clapped when people arrived and ran to give people hugs and make them feel excited to be at their banquet.
I even received a couple end of the year gifts, one student made me poster with pictures from the musical and said everyone needed to sign it. Another student and his mom made me a scrapbook page of the musical and mounted it on black art board and had a gold pen for every to sign the board. I don't exactly know what to do with these things (probably put them up in my class, maybe it will become a tradition) but I love them just the same. These kids have really treated me well.
I love these kids so much. Last night I was truly reminded of why I love to teach drama and why it would it be so different if I only taught English. In two years I have watched some of these kids go from painfully shy to really coming into their own. Some of those shy kids have become my biggest talents. Their personalities have really begun to shine and I am so incredibly proud of each and every one of them. I like to think that I have had a hand in helping these kids find the strength in themselves to be who they are and to know that they are great.