Aleeza, Caroline, and I arrived at St. Joseph’s Villa around 2:30 p.m. on final production day. We organized costumes, decided where our group members would stand during certain scenes, set up our music, and mentally prepared for the rest of the afternoon and evening to come. About 30 minutes before the students were expected to arrive, Dr. Soderlund informed us that there was only one bus picking up students at one school, when we originally had 2 buses picking up at 3 different schools. Aleeza, Caroline, and I were in a minor state of panic. Finally, 4:30 p.m. rolled around, and the front Church doors swung open. I noticed Ms. Kiesha walk in, with Andy, Betty, and Selene trailing behind her. 3 of our 15 students had showed up. Rather than freak out, we decided to reassign roles and have the students go through their lines right away. After an hour, every role had been casted, and we successfully read through our entire Act. The show was a success, and our students had a wonderful time performing.

Our final rehearsal with Higher Achievement was our best yet. Aleeza, Caroline, and I went to T.C. Boushall with the plan to split into groups by scene and go through the students’ lines. We were sent to the Mural Room. Right when we got there, we asked the kids if they were aware that the final production was the following day. Some students knew, while others did not. We then announced that we were going to split up into groups based on what scenes that students were performing in. I had Scenes 2 and 4 of Act 2, but only 2 students out of the 4 that were supposed to be in my group were present. Therefore, me, Teddy, and Selene moved off into a corner of the room and went through lines. I read the lines of our missing students. Near the end of rehearsal, Ms. Kiesha, one of the Higher Achievement coordinators, came in and one by one pulled the students aside to call their parents to remind them to send their child with a completed permission slip the next day, or else that student would be unable to participate in the final production. Some students’ parents were native Spanish speakers and did not speak any English, so the students had to call the parents themselves.

The day of the final performance has finally came and went. It definitely did not go how I expected. When we arrived, we found that the bus was only picking up our kids from one school even though I’m pretty sure our group comes from three or more. Ultimately, Andy, Seline, and Betty showed up. I was really surprised that Betty came. She was in my group the day before and she really emphasized how much she did not want to be in the show. She told me that she would run, hide and go home on her own bus to avoid being in the performance. All the same, I am glad she came as her presence was very much needed considering only two other kids came. Overall I am proud of the performance. Andy, Seline and Maria did well in their roles, especially considering they each took on at least three parts throughout the act. I ended up reading for Sir Andrew and Curio throughout the act. It was fun acting up on stage, I’ve missed it if I’m being honest. However, I’m still having mini flashbacks of me being the only one dancing to” juju on the beat” especially when I had just learned it that day by watching youtube videos. I was so embarrassed. Every single rehearsal all of the kids were obsessed with that song and wouldn’t stop dancing it. But when the time came for them to dance in the performance, I was left dancing alone. I really wished they had danced with me, but I have to admit that it was pretty funny that I was the only one dancing, it took me a long time to realize I was the only one. I wish more of our kids had come, I’m sad that I won’t see the rest of them again at least for a while. However, I am happy with the final product. Andy, Seline and Betty all really stepped up in terms of our performance and I am very proud of them. They read their lines, even their new ones, quite well. They had a lot thrown at them when they realized that they were the only ones of their group who were performing and in my opinion they did a great job of tackling that obstacle.

The final rehearsal went better than I expected, especially considering we only had 20 minutes to rehearse. At Higher Achievement all of the the grades meet together for an activity before the breakout sessions. This week each grade designed a t-shirt to be submitted for a competition between the different grades. Our grade (fifth grade) ended up tying with seventh grade. I hope they won, apparently they were going to find out the results on the following Monday. In our twenty minute rehearsal we were able to breakout into the three separate groups and work on our group’s scenes. My group consisted of Jennifer (Sebastian), Angela (Antonio and Fabian), Betty (Sir Andrew and Maria), and Micah (Sir Toby). Izeah was not at Higher Achievement that day so I read the part of Malvolio. It went well. my group was in scenes one and five, we were able to run through both with no problem; I really think they’re finally getting into the play. It’s unfortunate that everything did not come together until the last rehearsal, but at least it came together in time for the show. At the end of the rehearsal “Miss Keisha” called all of their parents to get verbal confirmation in regards to the show. I am worried that no one would come. When we first arrived Alan said he had only received one permission slip back so far. He then asked the kids if there were anymore and he received another. He then turned to us and said not to worry that a lot were glomming. considering he only now had all of two permission slips, I am skeptical. We typically have between 12 and 15 kids each session, but I’m not sure if any of them will come to the final show. However, even though they had trouble staying on task and it didn’t come together until the very end, I am going to miss these kids. sometimes they can really be a pain in the butt, but sometimes they say the sweetest things. I wish I could do more for them. I might continue to volunteer at Higher Achievement next semester if I have the time, I really want to continue to help these kids.

We were unable to meet for rehearsal this week because it was during Thanksgiving Break…on Thanksgiving Day, actually. Thankfully, we are on schedule to meet with the group next Thursday, which happens to be the night before the final performance. Although we have not met with our group in 2 weeks, I am glad we will be meeting this Thursday rather than any other day in the week, because rehearsing the night before the performance will be a good refresher that they can carry with them the following evening.

This week we were unable to meet with our group because T.C. Boushall was hosting their own group Thanksgiving for the entire after-school program. Unfortunately, this break from rehearsal is unfortunate because last week was the first week that the students actually participated.

Weeks 9 and 10 we had off for Thanksgiving. Week 9 they hosted a Thanksgiving at Boushall and week 10 was Thursday November 24th as in Thanksgiving day itself. I am worried about our production as we have not been able to get the kids to run through the act once. Hopefully we will week 11, but as of right now I am not sure how our performance will go. We have been able to determine which kids are good readers, which kids like theater/acing, which kids dislike theater/acting, and which kids have difficulty reading Shakespeare. If we had the time, I would like to help those kids who have difficulty reading. However, given the time constraint it would be difficult to do at this point. There are not enough rehearsals and so the kids who have difficulty reading will just have to have smaller roles. Also, overall the kids have issues with paying attention/staying on task. While we can generally get them all to participate in the theater games, it is difficult to get them to focus on the play. Perhaps for the next class I will bring candy to bribe them to focus on the task at hand. If they focus and we get through the act then they get candy. If not then no candy. It’s unfortunate that I would have to resort to that, but as they say, you gotta do what you’ve gotta do.

This week we were able to get the kids to act through several scenes. I was unable to be there due to a mock trial conflict unfortunately. However, Colby and Aleeza said we made good progress to a certain extent. The kids who weren’t acting out the scenes at the time were unruly and unable to focus on the task at hand. It’s really hard for us to maintain control while rehearsing. Granted, all the kids are pretty young so no one said it would be easy. I think it’s more so that there are so many of them. Typically there are about 15 kids at each session and usually there are only 2 or 3 of us at each meeting, so that’s 5-8 kids per jepson student. We’ve been trying to channel their energy through theater games. Sometimes it gets them to calm down, but sometimes it just engines them. We haven’t truly run through the full act with all of them yet. Yes we have read them and gone through each scene, but never in it’s entirety.Hopefully we will in the next session.

Caroline was unable to attend this week’s session, so Aleeza and I ran rehearsal. When we first arrived at Boushall, Mr. Allan was in the middle of a game on politics with our group of students as well as the rest of the after-school students. Therefore, we did not begin rehearsal until about 6:30. When we finally had the students to ourselves, Aleeza and I brought them to the Choir Room, which allows for a lot of spread-out space to move around and act. The kids begged to play one round of “Zip-Zap-Zop” before we began rehearsing, so we did exactly that. Two of our boys and 1 girl were missing from the group, so we had about 9 students all together. 3 of the boys that were present at rehearsal refused to be calm, participate, or be respectful. Mr. Allan happened to wander by our classroom and set the boys straight, so they weren’t as disruptive throughout the remainder of rehearsal (sort of, kind of). Once “Zip-Zap-Zop” was over, we called on a few students to come to the center of the room and read through Scene 1. While running through the scene, the few disruptive boys failed to pay attention and distracted the readers. They did this throughout Scene 2, and part of Scene 3 as well. During Scene 2, while one boy was reading, he said, “This is not English. There is no way a human wrote this. An alien wrote this.” Aleeza and I attempted to explain the concept of Old English, but this boy either did not understand or did not care. We did not have time to run though all of Scene 3, so the students read the first half of it. With 5 minutes left of rehearsal, we played the theater game “Museum,” because the students refused to go through any of the scenes unless Aleeza and I promised to play “Museum” with them at the end of the session. During the game, one student tripped on a chair and got hurt, so I brought him to see Mr. Allan as the rest of the students began to laugh at him. Mr. Allan was not happy that the students made fun of him, and didn’t seem happy with our session whatsoever, so before Aleeza and I left, he and Aleeza exchanged phone numbers and said he would call her the following day to go over some tactics on how to better control our wild students.

Aleeza was unable to attend rehearsal this week, so Caroline and I ran the session. We started late because the students were participating in a large group election activity run by Mr. Allan. When they finished and were broken up into their small groups, we took our group to the Choir Room to rehearse lines. We had 2 or 3 of our original group members missing, and Mr. Allan said they were out for personal reasons. The students were pretty rowdy, so we decided to begin with a game that they all really enjoyed: Museum. When Caroline and I (the Museum guards) close our eyes, they are allowed to move and dance around, but when we open our eyes, they have to be still, like a Museum statue.

When we completed the game, we asked the students if they all recalled their assigned part in Twelfth Night. The majority of them remembered their lines, only 2 or 3 out of the 12 or so students had to be reminded. Everyone then went over their own lines.

When Caroline and I met with Mr. Allan after rehearsal, he informed us that John, one of our 5th grade students, had completed the testing that had been occurring at Bousall that week his results stated that he performs at a 1st grade reading level. Therefore, Shakespeare may be a little too difficult for him. He offered to transfer John out of our group, but Caroline and I said we would be willing to work with him one on one in future rehearsal sessions. Mr. Allan said that 2 other boys in our group also tested at 2nd and 3rd grade reading levels. Therefore, we decided that at the following rehearsal we would perhaps divide into smaller groups to make rehearsals seem a little more personable, allowing the students to receive more individual attention.