Sunday, April 24, 2011

High School Scholarship Story Slam April 30th, 2011

When high school students Maho (Lynn Classical High School), who is orginally from Bosnia,  or Sandy (Boston Latin Academy), from Mattapan, told their stories, the air was taut with the energy and attention their peers were sending them.

The two students are as different as can be. Teachers said they were surprised to see Maho step up to the mic -- he has a stutter, they said, but it was not at all evident in his performance. Sandy is an award-winning slam poet and practiced performer, but the raw memory of her story caused her to pause for composure.

Theirs are just two of the stories we will hear in the StoriesLive® Scholarship High School Slam on April 30th, starting at 2:30 PM in the auditorium of Cambridge's Main Library, 449 Broadway.
This event is free and open to the public,  thanks to support from StoryStream.  In this final competition, more than a dozen teens will be telling stories based on their real life adventures. The stories are poignant, funny, sad and silly.  In one the echo of a younger brother's voice pulls the speaker from the brink of suicide.  In another, the teller attributes his big head to getting in trouble with a nun.   
These stories have been brought forth by StoriesLive®,  a curriculum-based program designed by the non-profit organization massmouth, inc. to teach vital oral presentation skills and empower teens to tell their stories.  MassHumanities partially funded the program this year based on its innovative approach. Teachers and administrators value this program for developing skills needed for the college and job application process.  Norah Dooley, project director and curriculum developer of the lesson plans says, "Students need to know and tell their own stories." And massmouth cofounder Andrea Lovett agrees, adding, “Telling and listening to stories helps to build a culture of respect and compassion.”
 Nicolette Heavey, project co-director, noted that student feedback has consistently proven that the program builds common bonds and a greater sense of community within the classroom.  Typical student comments sounded like this: “I really liked hearing other people’s stories and getting to know their feelings.”  The massmouth storyteller-educators have heard over 1200 personal stories from high school juniors and seniors in Abington, Andover, Boston Latin Academy, Everett, Lynn Classical, and Newburyport high schools.  The best of the stories heard in the classroom moved on to performance in front of their high school audience.  The best of each high school will compete at the Cambridge Public Library for their share of $5000 in scholarship cash. 
massmouth, inc is a 501c3 with a mission to promote the timeless art of storytelling in the 21st century via social media, education and performance.  Videos of the assemblies, in-class lessons and final performances can be viewed at