A blog about the amazing things teenagers do, about writing for teens, books for teens, and occasional forays into my world and the world of publishing.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Building a Bridge--Aspire Middle School

We call our festival "The Bridge Project," for tonight we build a bridge, not with traditional materials, but with our creativity, our talents, and our skills. We build this bridge connecting our community to the peoples of Haiti and Chile, and we invite you to join us. We hope you enjoy our music, our dance, and our stories. We also hope, with sincere appreciation, that you will consider a donation to the Red Cross for those who continue to struggle after the recent devastating earthquakes.--From "The Bridge Project" program, Aspire Middle School

As a Young Adult writer I have a tendency to look for the drama that follows teenaged life, (teenaged angst makes for great reading) but I love to hear stories about high school and middle school students reaching out and doing something good. I was excited when I heard about Aspire Middle school's Bridge Project--a festival of performing arts turned into a fundraiser for the earthquake victims in Haiti and Chile.

Aspire Middle School is a public middle school in which the emphasis is on performing arts. Aspire is nestled safely in the heart of Lacey, Washington--far away from the destruction left in the wake of the two recent earthquakes. Aspire's dance, drama, and music students were preparing for their first ever festival of the performing arts (this is Aspire's first year in existence), when the leadership class suggested that the school hold a fundraiser for the people devastated by the two earthquakes. The ideas married up and the "Bridge Project" was born. The students had already spent months preparing for the festival, but when the "Bridge Project" was introduced, the rehearsals took on more meaning.

The Bridge Project ran for three days, March 18th, 19th, and 20th. The performances ranged from dance to drama, from tap to swing, from pop to classic. The band played Bach and the theme from Halo (the popular video game). The drama students shared folk tales from around the world. The orchestra wore sunglasses for the "Banana Slug Blues". Three mulit-legged, wild-socked, "Furry Lees" danced while two other students played Beethoven's "Fur Elise" on the piano. The choir sang and danced to "Jump Jive and Wail". Soloists ranged from award-winning tap performances, to ballet, to a song written and performed by one of the students and her father.

When it was over, the audience had been well entertained and the Bridge Project had raised $700 for the Red Cross relief effort. More than that, the Aspire performers had shared their talents with their own community and built a bridge to two communities who were in need.

Chris Traber, the drama and dance teacher at Aspire organized The Bridge Project. She said, "It is my hope that the festival becomes an annual event, each year creating a new bridge connecting our Aspire community to others who are in need."

Congratulations to the many Aspire students and teachers who participated in the Bridge Project. It was a great success and I hope that it continues for many years to come.

What do you think of Aspire's Bridge Project? What other projects have you heard about or participated in where high school and middle school students did something to help out those in need?

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