SoDak it Hurts

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Feb 08 2010

State Champs

For the first time in school history, we brought home the Superior One Act Play Award to Todd County High School.

Not only did our play take the highest award at the South Dakota State One Act Festival, but the kids also received the Outstanding Ensemble award, recognizing them for their cohesiveness as a unit.

Based on feedback from judges at the Regional Contest, we chose to add a spotlight. However, the one we practiced with was a shaky floodlight that was nothing like the spot light provided at the state competition. During our final rehearsal, the kids had to project louder than normal, not only because I wanted them to, but also because there were folks shooting bows and arrows at targets in the back half of the gym. Every time someone missed a target, an arrow would crack into a sheet of plywood set up behind. Our freshman lighting technician had to sit with me and yell the lighting cues because the lights above our stage only turn on and off and you have to operate them from a switch box in the back; so we imagined the lighting cues and transitions.

The kids were getting frustrated and worried that we wouldn’t get the rehearsal time to perfect our changes before the state competition. I was frustrated, too.

After the first run-through as I gave them some notes, I paused and thought about the story we were a part of, about the journey we were on and where we are from. I told them I’d rather have arrows flying across our gym while we were trying to rehearse and I’d rather be nervous as all get out about feeling unprepared – because we’d remember the experience forever. Nothing is perfect and the hard stuff is always the good stuff. The hard stuff is what makes the story.

Driving home from the competition with a plaque and confidence in tow, I reminded the kids that pushing through the hard stuff doesn’t always mean you come out with a win.

This time, though – we did.

Photos courtesy of South Dakota Public Broadcasting, click here to see more.

3 Responses

  1. Congrats Ray-Gun.

  2. Cheers to you and the students. Forgive the stretch, but your story brings the beauty of shakespeare to mind!
    “Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer
    The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
    And, by opposing, end them.”

    Your arrows were ACTUAL arrows, and they were aptly opposed.

    take it hard,

    -shaun o

  3. Jamar Keaton

    Great job man. Much congrats to you and your students. Now we just need to make them Bobcats!

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About this Blog

I taught 10th Grade English on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota between 2009 and 2011. Currently blogging at

South Dakota
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