June 30, 2012

Big day ahead.

The morning started as usual… feed the kids, caffeine my bod…

Today was the Giraffe New Student drive.  I have never been involved with this process – at ANY school – so, it was a bit daunting, and yet kind of exciting.  Seeing all these new kids who possibly, would be part of our school over the next few months.  It’s funny, because at the end of the program, the children were told to come over to ME!  I would ask them a couple of questions, and give them a gift.

There was only one little girl who was absolutely petrified.  She did seem to lighten up a bit after I smiled and gave her the gift.  For the most part though, the kids didn’t seem fazed at seeing me at all. I found myself thinking, I wonder if s/he would be good in the storytelling competition!  Haha.  With the competition only a day away, and here I am wondering if any of these kids will be future English speaking storytelling champions…

Once the ‘drive’ was concluding, I presume new students signed up, and things got back to ‘normal’, or as normal as Saturday could be, the practicing began.

Tomorrow is the regional competition.  I would be fooling myself if I said I wasn’t concerned.  Each of the students took their turn at rehearsing.  Not only were they required to go through the story, it was also ‘dress’ rehearsal.  This is our chance, as the teachers, to see that the sets and clothes and story all come together.  This is not the time to make any changes to the story.  That ended a few days ago.

It would be crazy to try to change intonations or actions at this point.  There is no way that the students would be able to remember any changes.  Besides, I remember as a kid doing performances in front of people.  It’s a nerve-wracking experience.  Perhaps it is fun at this point, but tomorrow, that will be the breaking point.

My predictions.  I have always done this each year.  After listening to the last day of rehearsal with the clothes and sets, I honestly give my prediction of what I think of our students.

Elva.  She is competing at the youngest level.  There are 5 or 6 students competing in this region.  Only one of those students will receive the invite to compete at the nationals.  After watching her today, I think she’s nailed it.  She knows the story, she’s been able to remember the corrections to pronunciation and intonation, she’s lively, and shows no fear on stage.  These younger students are notorious for being able to perform on the small stage, but when it comes to the big stage, they get stage fright.  I think, if she does as well as she did in rehearsal today, she will blow away her competition.

Nadia.  The thing I love about Nadia is her facial expressions.  We’ve added a bit of music at the beginning and end of her story, and her mom (Christine) has really been working hard with her.  I sometimes wonder who wants this more – Nadia or her mom!  Nadia’s costume is a lemur.  She plays the part, performs the motions, and just overall is an incredible storyteller.  At the end of each practice though, the first thing she does is run into mom’s arms and hugs her!  Mom, you better be offstage when she finishes her performance tomorrow!  Nadia will need to hug you!  I think there are something like 15 or 16 kids in her level, so that means only 2 will receive the invite.  I really do feel good that Nadia will grasp one of these two spots.

Jonas.  The one concern I have with Jonas, is that he shows very little emotion throughout his performance.  He knows the story, and although we’ve tried to help him out with some little problems, it’s really difficult getting him to put these changes into his storytelling.  He looks phenomenal in his costume, and the story is not too bad, and he knows the story.  He knows when he’s made a mistake, and corrects it, but he can’t do that in the competition.  I know his mom is really helping him out to correct these ‘problems’, but I’m a little concerned.  Although in his category, 3 students will receive the invite, I’m not sure he will capture the top placing.  The story is a good story, and he is able to recite well enough, so I will be pleased if he is able to capture any of the top three places.

Marcus.  I’m a little prejudiced toward this story, because it is my creation.  So, I’ve really been pushing him REALLY hard to perform this story.  He’s got the story down pat, but some of his facial and body actions are not as ‘big’ as I would like to see.  He’s got an amazing costume that his parents have helped to design and create.  Marcus’s parents over the years, have been big supporters of him and these competitions.  I know I tend to push him a lot, but he is at a higher level now.  His costume and/or set (for this year, no set), will not push him through to the top.  This level is more about clarity, pronunciation, expression – in a word, STORYTELLING!  He’s pulled it off over the years with us, and I do believe he will do well.  3 students in his category will receive the invite to compete in Taipei.

May.  It took a lot pushing to get May to accept the challenge to compete at the highest level.  Based on past years, I had the feeling that she would be able to compete at this higher level.  It gave our school the opportunity to compete in 5 categories, but it also opened up the lower level to have another student compete.  May’s story is shortened version of a Giraffe story.  She was asked to choose the story that she wanted to perform.  As I mentioned in previous entries, I am very worried.  However, she has proven herself over the past couple of weeks.  My pushing her to perform actions that are not comfortable for her, has proven to me, that she is an actor at heart.  May’s setback last year, I feel, has given her the impetus to prove herself this year.  She is also old enough to understand that we, the teachers at Giraffe, are very supportive.  Yes, we may be pushing her a lot, but then again, she is competing at the highest level.  Only one student in her level will receive the invite!

So, after all the practice today, I got home, and tried to get all of this out of my head.  As one of the trainers/teachers, I need to relax and be refreshed tomorrow.  These kids are going to be nervous wrecks, and I need to keep my attitude, support, and encouragement up for them.  Tomorrow they will show us, and all of the south region, not only how good THEY are, but what a great school Giraffe Nanmen really is!

That’s it, that’s all… for now!


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