Nothing But Net.

(me on the air guitar at the start of the slam)

The Slam.

An unbelievable, outrageous success.

My feet still haven't hit terra firma.

Every fear I had was entirely unfounded. Our auditorium seats roughly 975. I had 500 tickets printed thinking that would surely be enough. I mean, c'mon-we'd never done this before! I was WAY off base. As I stood on stage and the house lights came up for intermission, I was dumbfounded. The auditorium was almost entirely seated! I went to speak with my house manager and she said we had sold out of tickets within five minutes of opening up seating.

Being the Type-A hyper organized freak that I am, last week it occurred to me that I should probably think of something to do IF we sold out. Now in my mind, "sold out" was a long shot...a REALLY LONG SHOT. But, me being me and always wanting to be prepared, I went and bought a bright pink stamp pad and a star stamp.

Wouldn't you know it, but plenty of people left that auditorium with a pink star on their hand!

The entire evening was phenomenal. All the poets performed with their hearts on their sleeves. Shihan was the perfect guest and entertained the crowd to no end. The audience was magnificent; they booed the judges when it was appropriate, they wildly cheered when good scores were given, and of course they hollered it up for our poets.

The next day at work just amplified the previous night's success. I can't tell you how many people, both adults and students, who walked up to me--high five ready--congratulating me and saying that it was "the best event they'd ever been to at a high school." They were "floored at the talent" of our poets. Those words exactly. No joke.

It was all the validation I needed. The vision I had, the ridiculous amount of work to bring it to life, the reality it became and the success it will be remembered as; it was all worth it.

That evening, the winner from the individual category came up to me and gave me a hug and said that her win was because of me. That without me, she would never have known what Slam was, would never have written or entered into the competition. And she thanked me. Her words were like magic fairy dust and they humbled me.

I will never forget that evening, the lights as they shone into my eyes, the energy of the audience, and all the wonderful compliments people gave. And I will never forget my brave, brave students who stood on that stage, mic in hand, brilliance exploding from their mouths.

I received a text message late last night from one of the poets. He didn't place due to the fact that he slipped up during his performance and stalled just a little too long. Here's what it said:

Hey it's R. I just wanted to thank you again
for all of this. Even though I froze, I'm still proud
of myself for trying. And if there are any slam competitions
coming up, please let me know. Thanks for introducing this
to me. :)

9:58 pm, 4/25/08

If you've never known what it is to be a teacher, I have to tell you, these are the moments that carry you through the valleys; the fragments that validate every reason you ever had to become an educator.

My eyes well up and I am filled with immense gratitude and pride.

Swoosh...nothing but net.


Amy said...

Congrats! I'm glad it was a success. You will definitely be missed at Torrance High!

davisbg said...

Awesome! I am very impressed!