On Friday, February 17, we did our annual pilgrimage from the multi-purpose room at the secondary campus to the middle school gymnasium with literally tons of wood. I will admit that this pilgrimage is not my favourite day of the school year.
In one day, we have to organize 25 students to help us move huge and heavy objects without hurting the building, the workers or the gymnasium. That’s a tall order.
But we did it.
Each trip we made reminded me that this kind of learning is different from worksheets, tests and textbooks. This kind of learning is real work, for a real need, for a real audience. All kinds of things occur when you do this kind of work:
1. Leaders come forward
As we worked through the day, it became obvious over time which students were leaders. Leaders see more, see sooner and see further than everybody else. That’s exactly what these students did.
When decisions were made on which door to go through, the student leader made the call. When something was going to break, the leader slowed down the process. When someone was going to get hurt, the leader asked everyone to put the object down until they sorted out the issue.
It was a remarkable thing to watch.
2. Communication is important
As the day passed, students communicated with each other to solve problems. There are hundreds of parts to this stage and it took a considerable amount of discussion to make sure that all the parts went together the right way and in the right order. Students were solving problems together and communicating options and ideas towards a common goal.
3. big physical projects can be very rewarding
Students were very proud of their work. These students built this stage from scratch. So, to see their handiwork come apart, move along and then come back together again is an incredibly satisfying feeling. This became clear when students finished the project at 7 PM and started posting pictures of their accomplishment on social media sites.
On Monday, I asked one student how he thought the ‘big move’ had gone and he said with a big grin and a double thumbs up, “It went great!” There is a remarkable sense of accomplishment to create something beautiful and big and useful. Mr. Kiers is a miracle worker when it comes to pulling these particular students together in order to create something so amazing.
It really is a stunning accomplishment.
I will tell you that we are all looking forward to a day when we don’t have to move the stage into the gym for a mainstage theatre production. If we can build the current plan for our renovation of the secondary campus, we won’t have to move the stage ever again.
But in the meantime, we will enjoy the fact that this work is developing the unique gifts and abilities of our students in creative and meaningful ways.
Our hope is that since we built it, you will come.