Everyone knows that middle school can be awful, right? I mean, when you look back at your own life, I bet most of us wouldn't rank that period after grade school but before high school as a highlight. Weren't we all trying to muddle through those confusing early teen years the best we could? And sometimes the results weren't pretty.
But other times, these new teens catch you by surprise and take your breath away with their still-exuberant love of life. We all know that when teenagers find something they like (i.e., video games, TV, text messaging) they tend to spend as much time as they can get away with doing it. Because despite what they say, they're still kids. Kids want to have fun and aren't afraid to demand it.
So when six of my Cadette Girl Scouts decided they wanted to create a seven-minute radically altered version of the Rocky Horror Picture Show to perform continuously at Lake Farmpark's beloved Haunted Hayride, I was skeptical. This project would be the service component for these girls to earn the Silver Award, the highest award girls at this rank can earn.
We need boys to pull this off, I told them. And we could use a few more girls too. We have to develop a G-rated story, choreograph it, make our sound track, build a set, design costumes, pull together props, and practice, practice, practice.
Sounds like fun, they said.
They recruited boys to help. Other girls followed. They came to practice after practice all summer long. I witnessed bursts of creative genius from all of them. Most astoundingly, they showed up for every performance.
Aren't you bored yet? I asked them after the 55th show.
Nope! they all said.
And it was obvious they weren't. They chattered and commiserated and discovered things about themselves and their audiences. They helped one another with make-up, gave kudos where kudos were due, consoled when mistakes happened. They joked and teased and flirted. We were the group kicked out of Kirtland, Ohio's Lake Farmpark every night because the kids dawdled over their end-of-the-evening pizza, wanting to hang out together just a few minutes longer.
I'm not going to sugar-coat the difficulty of keeping 13 middle-graders on task. I supervised everything and spent a huge chunk of time on this project.
Still...the kids surprised the hell out of me. They made a commitment and stuck to it. They created a memorable show that they never tired of performing. They worked together as a team.
And when they look back on their middle-grade years, they'll probably remember this show...fondly. It might even be a middle school highlight.
Kim Van Sickler