StoriesLive® High School Scholarship Story Slam 2014
April 26, 2014
Now in its fourth year, StoriesLive®, a high school story slam project, has handed power to the timid and grace to the bold. The program has introduced over 6,000 high school students from 15 Massachusetts high schools to the art of 21st century storytelling and awarded over $17,000 in scholarship prizes. “The students listen to each other with an intensity and respect that is beautiful to see. They are thirsty for this kind of connection and self-expression,” says Massmouth co-founder and StoriesLive® creator Norah Dooley.
StoriesLive® has been a force to watch as the art of storytelling continues to inspire students and educators. Angelica Brutus, a Watertown High School student, described the experience in her school’s newspaper: “There were stories of dangerous car rides, childhood corpulence, and infatuation with boy dance crews, all of which elicited peals of laughter. There were also recounts that provoked and challenged the intellect of the audience."
“Each story was followed with effusive applause and even whistles of appreciation,” Angelica wrote. “StoriesLive opened the door for us students to acknowledge that there is an undeniable power in storytelling and that each and every one of us is a storyteller.”
The importance of incorporating programs such as StoriesLive® into a high school curriculum is evident in terms of student's intellectual and social growth. “It is the equity of this program that helps to set it apart. I’ve included StoriesLive® in College Prep, AP, and Pathways programs, to students with diverse learning styles and a wide range of abilities,” wrote Rachel Barlage, Lead Writing Instructor at Chelsea High School. “All of my students can gain something from participating, and it’s not always the students at the top of the class who excel in developing and telling their stories.” Barlage continued, “In fact, the program is so meaningful and rigorous that I included it in my AP Language and Composition syllabus, which was approved by the College Board.” (Read the full text of her letter on our Blog.)
Educators across the Boston area have recognized the value of a program like StoriesLive®. This year marks the inaugural season for Cambridge Rindge and Latin, Burlington High School, and Chelsea Bridge Academy, which is an ELL program. Returning schools include Boston Latin Academy, Chelsea High School, Lynn Classical High School, Revere High School, Watertown High School, and Worcester South High School.
Mass Cultural Council awarded StoriesLive® five STARS Residency grants for the 2014 Fiscal Year, which allowed this storytelling program for high school students to continue for its fourth consecutive year. These grants have been the program’s most substantial educational funding this past year; the MCC has provided a backbone of support for the StoriesLive® program since its parent program, massmouth,inc., incorporated as a 501c3 in 2010. This was also the first year that StoriesLive® collaborated with Young Audiences, a nonprofit that has been putting artist educators in schools for over 50 years.
Over the course of a week-long program, students are taught to craft and share personal stories on themes such as “First Time,” “Up the Family Tree,” “Where I am From,” “Lost & Found,” and “Learned the Hard Way.” If students aren’t initially sold on the idea of performing in front of their classmates, the fact that some serious cash is up for grabs rarely fails to get their attention. The year culminates in a regional slam where students representing all participating schools will compete for over $5,000 in scholarship awards. As one 12th grader at Lynn Classical High said, “I never thought I’d be a winner. I just thought I’d make people laugh. But it was mad fun.”
massmouth,inc is a non-profit organization that promotes the art of storytelling through live performance, education, and digital media. StoriesLive® is a curriculum-based program conceived by massmouth co-founder, Norah Dooley and implemented by teaching-artists/ professional storytellers.