Shake

It was subtle, but spoke volumes and stuck with me.

Driving back from Dewey Beach, the canines in tow, all three heads out the window, as is normal for them, and the passing car to our right – an older female driver shaking her head in disapproval. Don’t be mistaken, nothing about her being older or female makes any difference at all, the point all rests on her disapproval. At that moment she saw me, she saw three dogs having the time of their life, and she saw messy. Crazy. Not her. Unsophisticated.

As I finished Daniel Nayeri’s Everything Sad is Untrue, this moment flew back to me as I reflected on the stages of how I transformed from page 1 to page 351; starting this YA novel I hated the disjointed reflection, the interruptions, the interjections of one story over another – by the last page, I wished there were 300 more like it. I came to realize, that is life. THAT is life my friends. That look of disapproval from someone that deemed my ride with three canines lavishly lapping up the air as fast as they could take it in, to me, represented so much of what many will disapprove of, and yet, what makes you more whole as a person.

For some reason, I see that head-shaking disapproval, and I instantly see my canine’s eye. Dane, the night he was delivered to me from a caring man that lived three hours, THREE HOURS, outside of Mexico City, OUT of his way, in a caravan filled with his children, just to get Dane to someone that might take a chance on saving his beaten, broke, messy condition.

Did she see that? I would say absolutely not.

I see Dane’s eyes every time he looks at me and think of what almost might not have been, it causes shivers in my soul every time. This is not being said to congratulate me on being a good person, that misses the whole point. The point is to look past what makes each of us tick, satisfied, happy, and finding that extending ourselves beyond what we see, what we envision for our future, to include others, and as a result, finding a fuller sense of who we are through the understanding of others. Pretty deep.

It is interesting how chance occurrences, chance events, allow you to develop as a fuller, more understanding, and less unselfish person. I certainly never wanted nor want to be a person that disapproves of what I see at first glance and shutting windows and doors of opportunity that widened by perspective. I used to be that person that was so100% concerned about me, my future, my success, where will I be- and throwing that out those windows and doors and allowing myself to more of a person by finding what others experience, have gone through, and being understanding, it is a game changer.

I think one of the most brilliant dialogues was by Steve Irwin –

and he has it so right. I do at a fault have to receive help from others when I get taken advantage of the kindness I try to give others, and this pains me as it puts others in a difficult situation trying to support me as I try to give more to others than myself. This is the difficult part of my personality.

Yet, one thing is absent from so many. The lack of compassion, looking beyond someone that is not like each of us, looking past borders we create that are made up how others see how many pets we should have, save, or what kind of vehicle we drive, what kind of job we should be able to afford, to how we consider someone that does not live near us, confined the borders of where we live and that we create, and so much more.

A crazy thing happens when you start to open your mind, drop your expectations, and take chances to create opportunities for others. You grow. You learn more about yourself and you feel a more open sense of freedom. I want to continue to grasp every single level of recognition, honor, and opportunity and spin it around to give it to everyone that needs that same recognition, honor, and opportunity, and the respect that others deserve, at least has a chance.

Selflessness is rarer a trait occurring than being taken advantage of, disapproving at what you see opposed to approving of what you learn and discover is more common, being willing to accept what you do not agree with or like is a difficult and rare ability, and I was seeing that as I worked through Everything Sad is Untrue, stories of children having their hand slammed in a door because they were considered lesser being a refugee, treated as a disease because their food smelled different, not being believed because stories from other countries are fairy tales compared to U.S. history books, abuse at the hand of being accepted, learning the strengths of Mothers, and So many more lesson. One passage stands out to me still:

“The point of the Nights is that if you spend time with each other- if we really listen in the parlors of our minds and look at each other as we were meant to be seen-then we would all fall in love. We would marvel at how beautifully we were made. We would never think to be villain kings, and we would never kill each other. Just the opposite, The stories aren’t the thing. The thing is the story of the story. The spending of the time. The falling in love.”

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Change This, this, and this and Involve Youth

As Upward Bound was on the horizon, it was Friday night, and I was still on the search for the right lesson plan to delve into the book, Between the Lines by Nikki Grimes. Nothing much of substance existed on the internet that I was interested in, unless paying for a lesson unit. It hurt me to think there were no deep-diving lessons other than those to pay for, and I wanted something more appealing and off the cuff.

An idea hit me of using the writings of several individuals I knew from Paul Allison’s Teachers Teaching Teachers, specifically Samuel Reed – and somewhere the idea of journalism, credible sourcing from a teacher unable to attend on Saturday, and Between the Lines all began to appear out of nowhere. it is interesting that I am discovering true ideas for lessons are often inspirational, like music, lyrics, art, etc that is more effective than meeting state standards and instead, school librarians meeting students where they need to be inspired, moved, and motivated.

This was the plan- Banana bread

was baked at 6:00 AM to give to students at 9:30AM as they came into English class for Upward Bound on a Saturday. Think about that. Students, taking their Saturday, getting on buses as early as 7:30 AM on a SATURDAY, and creating some amazing things – how many students do you know have that drive? I was proud of the students before they even arrived.

As they were breaking banana bread, we introduced Nikki Grimes to them:

As students let this marinate, they looked at templates of a potential newspaper, each receiving a copy of Between the Lines and this was the game plan:

Blueprint of an idea

And we indeed looked through the book, first page 0-105 and then on the backside of the newspaper template, 106 to the end of the book. Some not have read the book yet, just picking one sentence that stuck out to them for some reason, jotting it down with the page number. Some were nervous about not having read the book before, we threw that out the window.

Skimming and seeing what catches your eye are some of the best prereading fun a person can have.

The thought of requiring students to choose APA or MLA as a page citation did cross my mind, I pushed it away for now. It was before 10:00 AM after all and on a Saturday.

Once that task was done, as music played in the background, students passed their papers to another, and that person looked at was had stood out to the previous student, and then both on the front and back, write a short passage (1-2 sentences) of what that chosen pulled quote meant to them or invoked in their minds. Once that step was done, students passed the paper again to another student.

This third student looked at what was before them, and chose an empty block, either drawing or describing what sort of image would go with this preliminary article, based on what was in front of them. This was done both for the front (covering pages 0-105) and the bask side, (pages 1-5- end of the books).

The next stage, passed to another student, and now, students would need to find one CREDIBLE source that would go along with all that they were seeing in front of them. What makes a credible source? That was the cool infused idea of my colleague was came down sick but thought of using OWL, and how I could incorporate that skill into this lesson.

Finally, students would look at all this and name what this newspaper would be called based on the information in front of them.

What was gained from all this? I loved the fact that this was done over 5 classes, where a combination of 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th-grade students all added to someone else’s ideas, not knowing necessarily whose thoughts were down (no names were placed on any of the templates)- and no grade level became in the way from each student adding to another’s idea and complementing and stretching their idea to a newer idea.

I liked the fact that this template could in fact be messy, just as reading sometimes, and sometimes skimming is messy and unorganized, as is writing, to get to a more organized finale. Yet, the process is not always organized and neat to get there – just as is life.

I loved the idea that students dived into a book and were comparing and talking about what they picked from the book, and INTERESTED at before 11:00 AM and picking their OWN pieces and choices of what stood out to them. Owning any part of a lesson, and morphing a final piece into a part of their own thoughts, should be a part of every single lesson ever presented to students,

Unless their own, their own contribution, sometimes, most of the time, seems a moot point over putting what the instructor wants and not sharing a part of who they really are.

What they came up with was pretty phenomenal, and worth the experimentation. Next blog post we will share the results, and I could not have been more envious of their ideas, loved it.

Additionally, despite feeling like death warmed over today due to allergies, crazy storms, and weather, was the information I was hearing on the radio, topics like environmental justice affecting Native Americans and Black Americans more than other populations, as well as the topic of the residents of what used to be Greenwood, part of the Tulsa Massacre, and the trial with individuals ages 101 to 107- this amazes me and inspires me to create circle discussions with students on these very topics.

I still am reeling from the creative genius these students exhibited on a day most people would not be even up, let alone out, to face mental exercises and some pretty amazing analysis of what they see and think about and yet they did and beyond. I can hardly wait to show you the results, and what lies ahead!

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Come As You Are

In planning for the conference for the 2022 DLA/MLA poster session Donna Carter, Greenwood Public Library Librarian, and myself, Woodbridge High Librarian fell into a brief intro:

Calling All Library, Tech, Social Media, Literature, Project, and Adventure Geeks – Come As You ARE! Come As You Are To Stay! Come As You Are…Repeat…

Presented by: Donna Carter and Harry Brake

Greenwood Library and Woodbridge High School Library

What happens when public and school libraries blend together and the difference is difficult to see? Amazing things begin to happen! See how school and public libraries come together to promote, nurture, support, and enhance individual passions, and interests, and allow students to have that “third space” in a time many feel isolated, even when surrounded by others.

When reality set in and life happened, and we found Donna could not attend, my first gut reaction was to just remove myself for this year, and yet, something ached in the back of my mind. I did not want in reality to not represent Donna’s vision, as well as the student;’ energy that made out school library, well, our school library, a media center a gathering place, and an exciting hotspot?

Amazing students like Anjolie, breathed life into what occurs at the library.

Why not brag about what makes our school library, something outstanding and an oasis for ALL that come however they are?

Students in three hours took the theme, took the events that occur in our center, and made it their own as they have in other ways as well.

We breathed life into the board that traveled to the MLA/DLA Conference.

Anjolie went on to add a virtual visit to our center.

A basic tenet was emphasized, School libraries are essential, they are coming back, and the more students that realize the status of school libraries and librarians in their own state of Delaware, the presence and lack of, the more presence they will be pressured to gain ground in all schools.

Using a spreadsheet of how many schools see a certified librarian as an asset, and as a detriment, to their institution, was eye-opening just for our local students. As we make this information available to the public in the form of students, parents, educators, and more, we move to educate individuals about why libraries are essential.

Not many people realize what a Day in the Life of a Librarian entails, and once you know, once everyone knows, then they see what is happening in their schools, as well as what is NOT happening in their school, both very valuable information to know as parents, stockholders in education and partners in building up experiences that will mold future community contributors.

I am beyond proud of this one microcosm example of how our students were able to take experiences and put them into shareable bits of information for the public. Isn’t that what school librarians do?

Representing their experiences at the MLA/DLA Conference came with meeting Jen Wilson, John Chastkra and Patrick Sweeney of Everylibrary.org, Amy Mosher at FSU, meeting Drexel representing the Information Science Program, Michelle Hughes, Denise Knestaut, (and getting info on the sources of naming the Brandywine Hundred!) Brianna Hughes, and so may more Maryland and Delaware librarians. I am eager to begin a journey of road tripping public and school libraries and starting a renewed energy of needs, insights, and possibilities that involve the resurgence of the value of librarians in education, for families, for students, for teachers.

It is long overdue.

Enjoy the deep dive into the contents of our board below, and please stop by Woodbridge High sometime and visit our experiences day in and day out in our Library Media Center!

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Legally Open Minded and Amazing (Part III)

T- minus 45 minutes on a Saturday night and what will you see at WHS’s Legally Blonde The Musical? Just when you thought you knew a lot of what you MIGHT see, there is so much more that will surprise you and make you walk away with conversations – here is what we haven’t talked about yet, that you will want to:

Jaisac as Grand Master Chad

Yes, Jaisac pulls off the lead as Warner, and yet manages to move and groove as well to beats to this score. It is quite ironic knowing we see Elle trying to move through her plan as well as following Warner, and Jaisac bringing that memory of Warner back to Elle, well, he does this quite well. Trying to find things to pull away Elle from her studies is not an unfamiliar tune and Jaisac is able to put energy into this role to try and do just that, just as we saw him so attached, the detached from Elle.

Robyn as Chutney

Remember when it was said those around the actors and actresses for the last few weeks have been living the musical? It has been fascinating hearing Robyn say just a few days ago, this has love, mystery, death, (she smiled), and comedy all wrapped in one! Truly seeing the energy that Robyn has directed into the plausible, but then implausible “truth” Chutney brings to the court, Robyn for the last couple of weeks has been on cloud nine being a part of this musical. Talented, energetic, willing, and full of heat it takes to bring this character to life, on and off the stage, Robyn has lived the spirit needed to jump rope and sing, lead (or mislead the court), and become one of the newest and the freshest energies that many want to see when anyone hits the stage. Seeing her throughout the musical, through several scenes, you will see if you look closely how much energy she brings everywhere you see her – and this is part of the magic of Legally Blonde the Musical as well.

Antonio as Kiki/Manager and Nicos Argitacos

You may have seen this comment several times when it comes to Legally Blonde, but personalities that cannot be contained and that are full of confidence and gusto bring Legally Blonde to reality for the audience. Antonio’s bravado, funk, expressions, posture, and ability to feel confidence show confidence is DEAD ON. Taking on an underlying respect for the role Nicos plays, as well as supporting the other actors and actresses in his role, he is easily an essential member of this cast based on the acting you see from Antonio. It does not go unnoticed as well that Antonio emphasizes the talent that anyone, from any gender, any position can make an impact as he pivots Nicos and Kiki/manager, in ways that only Antonio could possibly do, and enriching Legally Blonde the Musical beyond just a ho-hum performance. Despite his voice being softer and hard to hear over some of the musical scores, guarantee as the show moves forward you will hear much more of his confidence and ability to add the right accents to the right places.

Paige at Judge

Paige as a student is deadpan and quiet usually in school which makes her role as Judge all the better. The way she is able to bring the role of judge front and center in the physical and the metaphorical sense. She is able to pull this off and then leaves the audience wishing, after “witnessing” (sorry, had to do the court thing) her ability to fling an unexpected “unjudgy” comment, you simply want to see more of her. There is that innate ability you can sense of hr being able to give more on the stage, and her confidence in the role can’t be “cross-examined” without admitting she gives her role some extra personality when needed.

Xavier as Dewey

Hands-down one of the best and most hysterical scenes is absolutely Dewey. Flabbergasted when I realized this was Xavier, I lost it when I flashed back and remembered how Xavier made this role come alive. Not only did he cause many a laugh at the right time, following a pretty dramatic conversation, but he was able to personify the very person we begin to picture thanks to the description of Paulette leading up to this scene. Posturing is everything and boy, does he posture the scene into success – love love love.

Allison as Whitney

Allison does a great job in supporting Vivienne, and what stood out was the transfer from jump rope and singing, to law and court scenes, and you realize how versatile Allison can be on the stage. The leopard outfit glaringly represented all you could think of with the bling you see in Legally Blonde, and Allison goes on to put her energy into several roles in several places. Again, finding characters willing to bring themselves with their top level of energy and enthusiasm sounds great, but the stage is a reality. Allison is able to truly bring the energy and oomph when you see her in many roles and scenes throughout the whole show. This makes her AND the show as a whole memorable.

Emma, Serenity, Brooke, Abigail, Isabel, Emerson, and Robert as Ensemble

When you realize all the locations, scenes, and moments these actors and actresses make feel packed, loud, busy, involved, and more, you realize how important they are in every scene. At times it was difficult to hear their soft voices over the musical score, but, for a first show night, you knew exactly what their role was and what they were contributing to the musical, and in many a musical I did not know that at all. Their knowledge of what they needed to do, in every scene to help all the characters blend together and be successful – the weight of their ability begins to seep in and you honestly need to see the musical more than once to catch it all. They are able to do it all and they succeed at it all through the WHOLE production.

James Weiler as Elle’s Dad and Ricki Truitt as Elle’s Mom

Some things you will have burned in your memory forever. As you will when you see Weiler and Truitt in, well I will not say as that would be the ultimate spoiler, so you absolutely have to see the musical to believe it, but when you see it you will believe it, and never forget πŸ™‚ It goes without saying, the enthusiasm they bring to their role and shower on the actors and actresses, is the same energy students see day in and day out, so it is surreal to see this placed in a musical, but gratifying to see the lines blur when this happens. Priceless, as is the offer of Elle’s parents to take care of her Harvard tuition (and the golfcart – Weiler, we were a little concerned about how close you take those corners, but loved every minute of it – Hang on Ricki!).

Adelaide as Bruiser and Rufus as Stoeger

I am speaking from personal experience, but every single musical and production should have dogs in them. It was obvious to see how excited Adelaide and Rufus were on stage and among everyone, and it was also not lost on the audience how happy they made them. Canine affection and love went with the roles quite well and smoothly, and wonder how both will handle drama withdrawal afterward? (Love the chance to give others opportunities to adopt their own Bruiser and Rufus from the program as well!)

Kudos to the lights, sounds, spotlights, hair and makeup, musicians, and grips – one thing is usually not taken into consideration – the amount of time behind the scenes, and on stage, that takes its toll on making a production, any production, come to stage. I wanted to see and hear some of the voices clearer but on the first night, this is expected and I know will only become better as the performance finds its track and routine. The 15-hour days the cast and all members have put in, I mean fifteen hours – adding academics, extracurriculars, and more – is quite astounding, so SUPER kudos to the establishments that have helped feed the members through that process as well. It has been amazing seeing when the cast is feeling sick, out of it, stressed, and then finding their way to keep pushing through- imitating the will they have when real life presents the same thing to them. They continue to not give up as a cast – and that has spoken volumes to see the behind-the-scenes it took to get them to express themselves in a way schools days do not allow on a daily basis at trying times.

As with anything, the yearbook, a production, a sports event, a concert, ANYTHING, you can find 100 criticisms to apply to anything, and then being with students day in and day out over the course of a pandemic, remote learning, and just simply class, productions like Legally Blonde The Musical take on a whole new meaning when you have become part of the cast on a regular day to day basis but then see them on stage. Totally different perspective when you have the privilege of knowing students and then seeing a totally different side to them. Kudos to Ms. Jolene Workman and Ms. Danielle Jones in allowing expressive aspects of students to come out that many never get a chance to see in the halls during a typical school day, especially when conditions outside of our control occur. It makes the experience of when you see a large portion of students come together even more enriching, and when you see sides of them you never get to see normally.

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Legally Open Minded and Amazing (Part II)

A second main lesson many may or may not notice, but hope many walk away with learning from Legally Blonde the musical, is the topic of respect. The open-mindedness that is encouraged in the middle of the sometimes crass Law instructor’s class, some participants of Elle’s fan base, and yes, it is the script and is real life; even more to life is the reality that while one might not believe or accept a differing individual’s belief, orientation, views, or religion, they certainly are a better member of society for remaining open and respecting an individual that might not match to your beliefs, but still respecting them as a person. This thee played out through characters, the plot, through the musical score but even better, it was rewarding to see the young cast appreciate these values towards another better than the media, talk show topics, and even better than some adults, which is promising for the future of many healthy communities.

Te’Neal as Vivienne

At first this character comes off as being stone-cold emotionless, and it was easy to see as the play progressed, you saw more and more of a law calculating Vivienne. I think the stern, cold, law only and my future only personality is played so well by Te’Neal, and I think as the days go on, you will see more and more of the emotions Te’Neal is able to pull off through Vivienne. When you see the changes that take place between Vivienne and Elle as plot characters, you begin to feel a power of the plot and musical elements coming together.

Lauren as Brooke Wyndam and Kate

Auditioning at Carnegie Hall earlier this year, that tells you a lot of what you need to know about Lauren. Second how many of you can sing that musical score while jumping rope? The “muscle” that Lauren brings to this position is the perfect match, and then her “softening” when it comes to familiarity with a fellow “sister” – Lauren is able to bring this role alive through her voice, her charisma, and through her ability to speak to the audience directly. Love love love. The smarts also being represented through Lauren is well done- and a natural role for Lauren. if you have ever seen her during a typical school day, all business and the times when she isn;t cranking out the amazing success, we are lucky to hear her voice.

Olivia as Enid Hoops

If you were a member of the WHS staff anytime in the Spring of 2022, and anywhere near students on a daily basis that were even remotely attached to the play, you were aware of living pieces of this musical every single day for months. One concern heard repeatedly is the question of if a role is right for a student to portray and how they will be perceived as a student in that role. I know for a fact Olivia pulled off a great feat in her role as Enid, canvassing from staunch anti-masculinist topics to being an independent woman, addressing issues from lesbianism, breaking glass ceilings for the path of future women, to just simple respect demanded for women. Through it all, Olivia pushed the determination of this role to the forefront, and despite being difficult to hear sometimes over music and peak moments of a rise in sound, her building confidence in this role helped reflect the personality of others through the personality she brought on a steady basis as Enid. Not an easy feat to achieve and it was exciting to see her continually warm up more and more in this role.

Cameron as Aaron Schultz

The array of various individuals represented coming to Harvard depends on the varied personalities. Cameron definitely is able to represent the awkwardness of a new law student as Aaron perfectly. Quiet, out of sorts a little, and sure of himself, would like to see a little more of that self-confidence pouring out, and think we will as the musical progresses. Dancing, singing, and also being a part of the ensemble, it doesn’t take all brain power to see the talent Camerian has to work different facets of this character.

Prince as Sundeep and Carlos

Seriously, prepare yourself for hilarity. Prince has the moves, the language, and the expressions to add the comedic reactions needed opposite of many a serious contemplation during the musical. Aside from never being able to look at a UPS driver the same again, playing another entering member of Harvard as well as the big reveal Carlos during a great court scene number, if there was any more of Prince during the musical, there indeed might be Purple Rain. The right person, the right scene, the right laugh, the right look – you will be convinced once you see what he brings to every character.

Believe it or not, this is only still a third of why and what you will see in Legally Blonde the Musical by WHS Drama team. Stay tuned for the remaining look at what you will be really taken off guard with and amazed by in this production. Part III on its way soon and you still have tonight at 7, as well as May 1 and 2 at 2 PM to latch onto it all!

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Legally Open Minded and Amazing (Part I)

Post ex-patriot depression. Unless you have decided to take one of the biggest risks of your life and truly give up everything you know, move to another life and leave so much of yourself behind, most likely, you might not have been aware of a condition known as ex-patriot depression. I certainly never did, and then, well there are no words.

The individuals you welcomed me from my home U.S. country when I moved to Mexico- and waked me literally by the hand so I could be successful in everything I did was beyond what I ever expected, and the six years I spent in Mexico, as I have said before, completely changed me, 100%. Returning back to the United States, and I never thought I would ever say this, was the hardest decision I ever had to make, it felt as if I was leaving everything behind AGAIN, on the other side of my border, and leaving 95% of myself behind with my departure- very difficult to come to terms with.

That first year back was the most difficult of my life- absolutely, the most head to the wall depressed I am sure I ever felt in my life, and again, that is a difficult pass to get beyond. However, one thing brought me front and center as I attended the first show of Woodbridge High’s Legally Blonde The Musical performance tonight.

Leaving Mexico was not just leaving a world of students, parents, and friends that I had become close to from all over the world, it was leaving drama behind. I mean that in the best possible sense. The productions that the musicians, parents, actors, tech crew, stage crew, put themselves into, raising thousands upon thousands of dollars, and performing to over 200+ people every night, that was something over the six-year period I had actually begun to EXPECT when I went to our school’s productions – being able to be a fly on the wall behind stage and cover the cast and crew in photos and blog posts was a privilege every single night, and a mind-blowing one at that.

When I realized I was returning to Delaware, and I knew the shock would be real jumping back from living in the 4th largest city in the world to possibly one of the smallest states in the United States, I knew there would be repercussions on my being and yet…

I can never forget the VERY FIRST drama production I attended at Woodbridge High in the WInter of 2017 – Miracle on 34th Street. I forced myself to not compare anything with anything, as I was in a totally different life now, and to do anything else would be unfair to me, and learning to settle into a new life I was creating over- just a lot to work through in the realization department.

I still recall, how I was welcomed without the person who welcomed me knowing it, and without even knowing ME. I saw for the first time, a young girl who acted, sang, and was just uber-confident in the reason she was on stage, confident in the story she was leading and telling others, and even though everyone knew this story, she told it in her own way and brought everyone in.

Alyssa as Elle

She brought me in from a very depressing transition and I felt instantly at ease and at home, despite the post expatriot depression I found myself in being warped between countries. She was amazing. had a great voice, confident, spunky, and was absolutely exciting to see on stage. I of course am talking about the lead in Legally Blond, The Musical, at Woodbridge High School and talking of course about Alyssa. I did not know I would come to know this young star of the stage in a better sense years later, nor did I realize I would see her in several stage productions and each time, seeing her grow in a number of ways into the young woman she became tonight, and sadly, her last full production on-stage for WHS. There were so many familiar emotions I felt in the same scenarios I was a part of in Mexico through countless amazing productions, and yet, her ability to take a role and pull someone out of an expected withdrawal of all you have come to know, well it is powerful. But Alyssa’s ability to remain her comedic, dramatic, energetic, ability-to-overcome- obstacle- after- obstacle- to- be- successful- story, AND talented self, as told in Legally Blonde as well, was one of the brightest takeaways you will witness in seeing this show. You have even more hit the jackpot if you are one of the many lucky people that have come to know Alyssa and see her grow in a variety of ways, and there are no words to saw what you witness as you see this happening. I never knew that little girl that conducted her self-confidently would be the same great young lady I would enjoy seeing in later years in my class, but ther it is. Being lucky and not sure how I became so lucky. I will attempt to go on and give you the most pertinent reason why you will never forget the lessons you will walk away with from this now three more day productions you should make a point to see, without giving away the points that will 100% surprise you and leave you gaping at how amazing it was pulled off.

A sidenote, one of the coolest things about a production is what happens BEFORE the production. I always noted and paid attention to this. In many of the Mexico American School Foundation productions, actors would be in the crowd waiting to get into the auditorium, in their role already, and mingling with the attendees / spectators as their role, and it was ALWAYS outstanding. ALWAYS. And tonight, what an amazing scene you need to be aware of. You had alumni from previous WHS production in attendance, from Marissa to Gerald, seeing former actors and actresses from years past there – was amazing to see everyone and chat with them before the production. ON TOP OF THAT, seeing so many instructors and administration in the audience (LOVED Ms Shiley – nominated teacher of the year in her complete Legally Blonde outfit with ms Fisher) from various schools, so many parents, siblings, and on TOP OF THAT, seeing instructors that came from Classic Upward Bound that were definitely here from afar- that was one of the greatest preshow events that can occur and already sent an amazing vibe. it was fabulous. On TOP OF THAT, seeing some amazing WHS athletes just get off the bus from their sporting events and come in their uniform, RIGHT off the bus to the show? PRICELESS.

Tommy as Emmett.

Wow. Just WOW. Never seeing Tommy play a role as front and center and it being the FIRST night production, the confidence Tommy brings to this role? PHENOMENAL. The good-guy, stick with it and mentor yourself and another to rise above anything that tries to get you down kind of character, he brings to LIFE and really SHINES at the end as a result- so so right for this.

Madison as Pauelette

Did you see this coming? I certainly did NOT – and wondered, holy mother of beauty on the stage! She is so versatile, worked her beauty salon to the point of being THE PLACE where you as a spectator centers back to, and is able to progress her character from one point to a polar opposite SO WELL, it will leave you wondering as well, WHY DID WE NOT SEE MORE OF HER in other productions. The additional personality she adds to the stage cannot be found in the lines she reads, and you will feel this from the very beginning when you first see/hear her.

Jaisac as Warner

This is a make or break role, and Jaisac is able to bring the hindsight to foresight of this character, in the same light as Elle (not easy to do) in SO many different scenarios, the foil character he brings is essential to the success of this story, He does it so well. SO well. VERY impressive with what he is able to do with this character and how it brings out so many other characteristics of the characters he is with. You often fund yourself regretful or flashing back on the past with Jaisac as Warner several times during the show.

Prince as Kyle the UPS guy

Oh My Mother of UPS Delivery GUY! If you are not falling on the ground, impressed by the versatile roles Prince is able to bounce back and froth with, AND the way he delivers this role to the hilarity all the way through the production, the laughter and hilarity is contagious from beginning to the end of the production. Absolutley. 100%. HYSTERICAL. Worth every single second of moves you see Prince make. I was not expecting the belly soreness I felt after all of what Prince brings to the stage.

Avery, Carla, and Karla as Pilar, Serena, and Margot.

I have to just tell you, seeing Karla in the last production and wanting to see more of her, is one major reason, absolute, one of the most talented, quietest, and most surprisingly dramatic ladies that you would not expect to come alive as she does on stage, wow. Seeing Karla in previous and then seeing her explode even more on stage as one of Elle’s angels, lol, priceless.

Avery – never expected a set of lungs like that on her, never expected the sassiness and amazing talent of dropping the best lines at the best moments, she was a sensation for her first production on the high school stage and no way will we be seeing the last of her to the benefit of the audience.

Carla is so spunky, energetic, finger and pro-Elle supportive I am wondering what I did not see or recognize her in more productions and can only hope somehow, some way, we will see more of her talent that she shows in legally Blonde. You can tell by the way she trusts her pro-Elle thoughts and advice, she loves the stage and bringing it to the audience 100%.

This is only a THIRD of the amazing things you see and feel from WHS’s version of Legally Blonde, so stay tuned tomorrow AM for some not spoiling reveals of AMAZING things that came out of a first night showing of Legally Blonde at Woodbridge High School. If ever there was a school production worth its money in pink, it is this one – so hurry before it is too late, you still have April 30th at 7PM, May 1st and 2nd at 2 PM!

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How Many Times Can the Broken Pieces Be Picked Up – and Who Will You Give Them To?

It is at the very weakest moments of our lives, that we often see the truest parts of our own self. It is difficult to say why this is the case, but as for myself, it has been often the truest of the truths I have discovered.

In receiving the devastating news that a mentor and one of the truest hearts I have ever met lost her brave and courageous battle with cancer this evening, I asked myself silently a few times, why on this sometimes biting, knashing, seemingly ungrateful earth do some of the best, purest people, some of the hardest fighting, working, and most selfless people have to suffer such great length, where so many others that are selfish, ungrateful, bullying, individuals remain untouched by struggle? Why on earth indeed?

I am sure many of you have asked this question in some of the most trying, frustrating, exhausting, and bottom of the bottom of times. It is in these moments of utter desperation, that the truest form of who we are and can be is often revealed, and I always have believed that is from the strength of the very people we mourn, but have given us the strength to represent them forever in our actions, our loves, and their lives and just in another form. Through each of us.

Ms Cheryl as many of you know was one of the purest heroes I have ever met on this earth. Coming back from Mexico City, broken-hearted about leaving such a close-knit family of people that had taken a chance on me, never knowing me and taking me in. Losing the one person that had hired me when I originally was not the right person they were looking for, Mr. Williams in hiring me changed the trajectory of my whole life. Little did he know at the time, his decision put some of the most amazing young people, some of the most amazing teachers, artists, and dear friend in my life that to this day, I am sure I never deserved.

Leaving this all behind was bittersweet, and coming back to my family, and working through several losses on top of losing Mr. Willians, upon moving back, often pushed me to the ground to a crawl more times than I care to recall. Yet, ms Cheryl took me in at perhaps one of my lowest moments, and she gave me so many freedoms to work with students and young people, it gave me more than a running start returning to the United States in such a blur of not knowing who I was amid the changes or where I was going. She gave me a map.

Through the countless issues, problems, and dilemmas that Ms Cheryl guided young people through, listened to, and found ways to support them and give them confidence, she never wavered from her calm, reflective demeanor, ever. She always placed the clouds of hope under every single young person, adult, and friend she came into contact with. She passed its legacy onto every single person that came to know her, and when she retired many were devastated in seeing her move away from a scene she always managed to play the hero in.

Who would save everyone now? The greatest legacy and gift that Ms. Cheryl provided to everyone within her reach was the love, the listening ear, the calm demeanor, the will to work until you thought you had nothing left, and then you realize you have a whole lot more because there are so many others that have 20 times worse problems than yourself. In fact, the very complaints you think you had are mere specks of dust when it came to trying to find ways to help those around us that were suffering way more than we would ever come to realize.

Ms. Cherly, for me, took a chance on me, that she could have easily said, you have so much going on right now, you just moved back, I am not sure you are going to be able to give what we need for this Upward Bound program. She never doubted me. She jumped in and advocated for my abilities, talents, and interests from day one as if she had known me all her life. I can tell you from the heart, apart from my family and the amazing friends I have been lucky to have as a part of my life, there is also a whole ton of people on the opposite side of that spectrum that will never advocate except for themselves, period. Ms Cheryl’s love for all things possible, even in the middle of the worst of storms, is LEGENDARY. As is Ms Cheryl.

I would guess, leaning more to positive belief, there are so many of us in the world touched by Ms Cheryl, touched by Mr Williams, touched by someone that believed in us for no reason, advocated for us, and set us on our way to doing things we never knew we could do. The very worst thing we could do is hide from those opportunities to keep these amazing individuals alive through a withdrawing grief. I grief that says I can no longer pick up the pieces.

I am of the belief that just when we think there are no more broken pieces, another storm of pieces will be at our feet, trying to wear us down. However, the lives of such people as Mr Williams, Ms Cheryl, who give you a part of themselves because they believe in you, and they believe you can go on to help someone else and believe in them like they did you? That is the largest piece of all to pick up and hold onto – the very biggest piece. You are so missed already Ms. Cheryl but your life has just begun thanks to the many throngs of people your life affected. Thank you so very much.

I love 4:03 of this video – that was the very epitome of who Ms. Cheryl is!

I think it is a powerful statement that both Mr Williams and Ms Cheryl both wanted us to spend more time helping others than knowing and worrying about them- which defines them perfectly in all they ever did.

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One Single Day, Task, Focus is a Losing Librarisition…

Librarisition? Seriously? Bear with me.

The below comment given by a librarian in another state hit home with me. I have been employed where certified librarians were made to feel as if they were a mascot. Luckily, I am in a school, and previously was in a school, that does/did not view it that way, a priceless gift, but many are.

Okay so yes, whether you realized it or not, April 4th was National School Librarian Day, and yes, three amazing faculty members of my school reminded me and told me thanks.

That felt good.

BUT – to the amazing and talented certified school librarian who wrote this above- I feel you, I truly do but KNOW THIS -Our professional ALWAYS ALWAYS is usually deemed less than the roles of nurses and counselors which are required to be in schools, and of course be certified. To the dismay of certified librarianship NOT so much BUT….

…We know what we do every single day is just as valuable as any profession, knowing we pave the way forward for futures. Many take that for granted, deny deny deny, or choose to ignore that fact.

BUT get this, the things we do EVERY SINGLE DAY, not just ONE day, (or month) speak louder than the multiple days spent removing certified school librarians from schools.

Organizations believe in us.

Students, senators, and state representatives and teachers and yes, admin believe in us.

Students and faculty believe in us – look at a typical day!

It is vital to remember, the administrators that do not acknowledge the value and merit of a certified librarian, the parents who choose to ignore literacy is a factor to all success, the individuals who choose to take the path of a degree in Information Science is not needed – they continue to struggle to find ways to succeed, and we all know, the best-kept secret and not best-kept secret but those to know, one of the very important cogs in the educational system is a certified librarian in every school.

It is so easy to believe a certified librarian alone is the key, teachers, administrators, and certified librarians with paraprofessionals change the landscape of education forever. It has been proven time and time again. Once others begin to take blindfolds off, more successes will be heard and seen.

Together, we all realize, it does not come down to one day, even one month, but the collective and countless hours, patience, and behind-the-scenes work we do EVRY SINGLE DAY? The privileged individuals who WANT to know, know more. It always seems to work out that way and togetgherm we work better.

Last note to let you know you are not alone – I did a Component Five experiment with students, on what they knew about certified school librarians and then what they did know after receiving a little information about certified librarians being present in our schools in Delaware. You are going to be amazed at the results, but it settles well with me that students are the first to be enlightened about the status, value, and presence of certified librarians in Delaware. Many times I was asked, “Why did I NOT know this about the profession, the lack of certified librarians, their absence across this state, and why do not more people outside of school know this?” All good questions. I do believe National School Librarian Day and National School Library Month, single, powerful tools, are meant to answer those questions.

Keep the faith. All bets on one single day is a losing Libraristion. πŸ™‚

P.S. We have another day / opportunity too- April 16th – National Librarian Day πŸ™‚

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Intersection. Which Way Do you Turn?

April 1st.

Poetry Introduction (because School Libraries, Sexual Assualt Awareness and Prevention, and Poetry can be destinations we use vehicles to get to!)

Whew. Let’s just dive in. Looking back to last year – it seemed a different April 1st is appearing, and one not to be worried about if headed in the right “direction.” (That is the good and bad thing about school librarians (SCHOOL LIBRARY MONTH!) – See? their mind is ALWAYS on and connects to everything…) It seems the idea of idling at an intersection was more real this year than ever, seeing so many aspects converging together. Exciting.

Speaking of that term before we just do that, this day ironically marks the birthday of my Day, Harry Brake Sr., and an assortment of gifts he has left behind for our family to capitalize on. From his hard-working ethic, to his mischievous nature, to the ability to reach out and pull in a handful of acquaintances without blinking – (pretty much like a magnetic), to an unbridled creativity that would come out in the most unexpected ways (wood carving, soap carving, mechanically, twisting designs throughout metal, paint, and more, the armory of talent that he carried, utilized, and shared knew no bounds.

Oddly enough, there were similar identities, even stories. but as a family, we know there was only one that carried weight in so many widening circles in Pennsylvania.

Much of that I carried with me silently throughout the day and helped me create and reflect on the below as well- as I realize each of us carries a potential – the trick is seeing it through to share it and have it develop into other creations and motivating others.

April 1st- April Fool’s Day, aaaah yes. So – it is true, I did NOT add an addition to my canine and feline family despite my post. Sorry about that. I try to keep the lines between what is possible and what is not closely aligned to allow a little bit of questioning to occur on April Fool’s Day in the tradition of the mischievousness my Dad would always lay before us. However, the intersection of the day is what is powerful amid a day of potential foolery.

The whole idea behind School Library WEEK, (April 3-9, 2022) and of course, School Library Month Month, is to be a model and beacon to inform others of what they might not realize about school libraries. It sounds obvious, that school libraries have morphed since the idea of a room full of books at your disposal without spending a fortune, and free to the average patron – ALWAYS a bonus to anyone that really likes anything mechanical, vocational, creative, inspiring, and a hundred more topics, without having to be a book worm. Unless people outside of libraries realize the inside can be a haven for dreams, talents, creativity, inspiration, and connections, yes, connecting to everything around us, then the value of the school library is diminished, just like a vehicle loses its value as soon as it is driven off the lot.

How do you maintain that value and keep that knowledge in front of the average person outside of the school library? At this point in the intersection of school libraries and potential, it is all about finding ways to market what exactly a school library does, and meet those needs of the community, be it a school community, a town/neighbor community, a learning community, a retired community, an business community, an agricultural community, every one one of these communities are connected and have intersection they all will eventually meet at, the key is to have the school library be the stoplight, sign, or traffic director to send people in the right direction.

Our first intersection decision becomes National Poetry Month in April! First, get this straight, Poetry is not always flowery, sweet, and sentimental. FALSE! It CAN be, but more importantly, poetry helps show the relatedness of thought, to action, to sometimes emotion, to the world around us. Of course the classics stick out, like Robert Frost, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Billy Collins, the “classics” that will burn through your memory of what driving through an intersection is.

Let’s also recognize that poetry is and can be represented by “Hot Rods” of the category, Amanda Gorman, Maya Angelou, Violeta Orozco, Joy Harjo, Jason Reynolds, Sandra Beasley, many more young poets, and this comparison to intersections about poetry and vehicles is not by accident.

There is poetry about mechanics.

There is poetry about farming.

There is poetry about pets.

There is poetry about doctors.

There is poetry that can highlight causes such as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (Also April).- Survivor Poems that show growth through traumatic events

The intersection we find ourselves at with School Library Month and poetry is full of potential, it is just dependent on which direction we choose. So here is a challenge to start us off. We are looking for poems that discuss growth, life, and even more how they represent our own state of Delaware, or your state, or country where you live, your immediate community. We want to collect these that reach deep and make you think in a literary art magazine by students, called The Riff.

We want to theme our collection Sprout, and show how people from all over respond and see this idea of “sprouting” through many dimensions of growth. We want to publish this and show this is a collection of individuals who are able to show us through your poetry (this month IS poetry Month). We hope you will send them here: SUBMIT and please tell others and let’s show how this intersection of poetry and life are navigated by us. Please also check out our Poetry a Day, every day page, as we navigate through so many types of Poetry for EVERY DAY! –

Next post, since this is just becoming too long πŸ™‚ – How the intersection of poetry contests out of Woodbridge High School, Escape Rooms, and some other cool contests this month will engage and challenge everyone from adults to young students, stay tuned later today to learn how this will be available to you – and celebrate School Library MONTH!

Also, Happy Belated April Fool’s Day Birthday Dad!

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Jasmine Warga, Students, and Art bring out the inner student

Olivia, do you think you could paint a conversation between an author and students/adults?

Wow She did!

In talking with Jasmine Warga and her book, Other Words for Home, so much depth!

A HUGE shout out to Delaware’s Festival of Words, which involves coaches, artists, teachers, parents, students, librarians, athletes, readers and non-readers to name a few. We need to continue to support initiatives like that that allow students to think outside of the proverbial box. This event supplies opportunities, meals, and texts alongside live author events to inspire all.

The talk we had tonight with Jasmine Warga, AMAZING.  The concept and perception of women wearing hijabs, the level of comfortable being asked where you are from when you were/are born in the U.S., the stereotypes and fears that many Arab Americans had following 911, and so many more topics that were brought up!   AND we had a student paint this painting based on the conversations she hears – attached.  Amazing night and I realized, school libraries can catch students off guard and enable a sense of trust to talk about normally uncomfortable topics when students find that third space library that introduces art and interests of the students without ever having to mention a book. 

The interest in books actually does not need to come from a reading interest which many students do not have, students tonight became interested because of topics they might learn about themselves, that draws them to the books. 

Fascinating discoveries tonight!

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