(Year 4, Week 9)

Monday morning the heroes sat down and watched as Lucille Ball and her partner in crime, Ethel, tried their hardest to wrap chocolate and make people laugh. The reaction from the heroes was priceless:

Lots of giggling and, “oh no’s!”

After the video played, the guide shared Lucy’s story. They heard of her hardships and being raised in her younger years by her step-grandmother. A woman who hated humor, mirrors and all things happiness related. They heard her tale of overcoming the hardships and always keeping humor in her back pocket. It was unheard of to have a woman owning a Hollywood studio and being the star of her own TV show. They were wide-eyed listening to the triumphs. The heroes were then asked the following:

What do you think was her biggest hardship to overcome?

Her rough childhood

Being a woman in the 50’s

Something else?

They discussed what they believe would be the hardest and then the tables were turned on them:

What is your biggest struggle, when it comes to reaching your goals?

Fear of failure?

Being made fun of?

Something else?

They discussed at length, their fears. Here were a few:

I am self-conscious of how I look.

I am terrified when people laugh at me.

Feeling left out breaks my heart.

The heroes then leaned into their strengths, they were challenged to think about the things that they loved about themselves. To think about how they can accept their flaws and love those flaws.

Come collaboration time, the guide shared a snippet of a letter she wrote to herself centering around self-compassion. The heroes were then challenged to write a letter to themselves. One that highlights their flaws and let’s them accept those flaws. One that celebrates their wholeness as humans, not just the good stuff they want the world to see. The nitty gritty. The anxiety, the worries. They were challenged to wrap it all up into a letter they could continue to go back to in the future. For the next thirty minutes, silence rippled through the studio, as they got to work writing to themselves.

Intentionality and chaos ebb and flow throughout the studio. As talked about previously, morning time is usually a very quiet time where heroes are buckled down getting to work. During collaboration, between 10:30–11:15, the energy is high and low depending on the day and what is going on.

Sometimes on those high energy days, it can be hard to pull back. It can be hard to remember that the chaos is part of learning and that even if they aren’t buckled down on points, they are in fact, learning. During collaboration during the week heroes were working on conflict resolutions, building out their clubs and even gathered around watching an impromptu comedy show.

One special moment, observed by the guide, was when there was a bit of chaos. There were heroes trying to hold each other accountable, some distracting and the intentional time was low. Through the chaos, one hero could be seen on the floor, working diligently on her Spooky Story, completely wrapped up in her own thoughts and world. At the end of collaboration she walked up to the guide and showed her the finished product. Her Spooky Story! The guide asked,

“Wow, how were you able to maintain focus when it appeared to be so loud?”

“Because I love what I’m writing! I didn’t even notice anyone else.”

The heroes were in week four of their quest progress. It was crunch time during the week and a lot of heroes were feeling the pain of procrastination. One of the challenges was to make clear instructions. This proved to be much harder than some anticipated. They created their instructions, finished their games and it was time to have fellow heroes test out their creation. The following comments were heard,

“I literally have no idea how to play your game.”

“What does this mean?”

“How do I move the character? This doesn’t make sense.”

Tough stuff. It’s hard to work on something for four weeks for people to not understand how to do it. Yet, there is magic in warm-cool-warm feedback. If the heroes didn’t receive feedback from one another, they might get to exhibition and be completely unaware of their mishaps. The heroes have a knack for honesty and they really value feedback time. It gives them an opportunity to make corrections and they learn how to use their time more wisely.

By the end of the day, the heroes had gotten to a point of perfection. Most of the heroes felt that their instructions were clear and that they put in a ton of effort to create a world-class experience. With thirty minutes left in the day, heroes were playing one another’s games and having an absolute blast.

Somehow the idea of a ghost in the studio emerged. It started with a couple heroes insisting that they saw fingers in the vents. This turned into mysterious knocks on the wall which eventually led to letters and riddles being found throughout the studio. It started mild. Heroes chatting about a secret person being in the ceiling. Then little by little, it became a game of, “who dun it!?”

The heroes found themselves completely immersed in the mystery of the studio ghost. Every single hero was searching the studio for clues. Some heroes were finding clues with numbers and riddles and they sat for an entire hour trying to decipher the codes. Others were finding these long scripted stories, written by a mysterious, “clown.”

At one point, a hero whipped out a video camera and was determined to catch whoever was leaving the clues or knocking on the walls, whether that be a ghost or a fellow hero. The studio found itself on three different sides, there were the clue busters, the observers and the pranksters themselves. It was amazing to watch their imaginations run wild. In just an hours time they had developed a whole persona for the supposed ghost. A complete narrative to where the ghost came from and even the personality traits of the ghost. It went from being a shrieking experience, to almost like their new studio pet. When the heroes are given space to grow in their imagination, the possibilities are endless. Their creativity is magical.

When the mystery of the ghost was wrapping up, one hero said,

“Guide! Guess what, I created the riddles using math codes! Nobody could crack them”

At the end of everyday the heroes sit around the rug for fifteen minutes and participate in their closing. Closing is a time to end the day on a good note. No matter what happened in the day, closing is a time to come together and celebrate.

During closing, the heroes discussed the topic of attitudes. The heroes were given this quote:

“We are solely responsible for our attitudes.”

The guide asked if the heroes agreed or disagreed. The answers were split 50/50. The heroes brought up excellent arguments for both sides. On one side, a hero made it a point to say that how we are feeling can be controlled and worked through, even if it is a bad feeling. Then another hero brought up how her families attitudes deeply affect her. That if someone in her family is upset, she has a hard time disconnecting from that.

It was a powerful conversation. As always, there was no right or wrong to the answers, just truths. Truth that our attitudes belong to us and truth that our attitudes might be affected by outside sources. The heroes then shared with one another ways that they work through bad attitudes. They shared coping mechanisms and gave one another some pretty solid advice, such as:

“You just gotta sit with the bad emotions. Feelings aren’t facts. Just feelings.”

The week before exhibition is always high energy. The highlight of the week was definitely when their quest supplies arrived. The heroes worked through so many challenges such as probability, team communication and design. So when their supplies arrived, they were ecstatic. Finally, they were able to put all of their hard work to fruition. There wasn’t a day that went by where they didn’t try to squeeze in quest time. There was a hilarious moment on the playground when two girls were found huddled behind a tree, using studio supplies to ‘map out their game.’ As they reflected on Friday, the heroes were unanimous in saying,

“We are so excited for exhibition!”

Elementary blog for Heroes Academy, an innovative school in Boise, Idaho. We inspire children to find a calling and change the world → http://heroesacademy.org