On December 21, the Linden STEAM Academy hosted its annual “Strange and Mysterious” plays performed by the eighth graders. The winter plays are something that students look forward to every year.

Before working on their own plays, the eighth graders get a chance to see some performances on a field trip in Boston and they also read some short stories for inspiration. These stories include The Tell-Tale Heart and The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant, and The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs. Joshua Titcomb, the eighth grade English teacher at Linden says that “together as a team they decided to base their play off of one, two, or even three of the short stories, or the poem.”

After the students decide on how their plot will be like, they have two weeks to plan and rehearse their plays. Titcomb says it is his “Project Based Learning (PBL) for the year.” The students received the assignment on Friday, December 7th. The first week of the play is what Titcomb calls “Ground Week.” During Ground Week, small groups of 4-6 students are formed and they get a chance to create their production company name, playbill, poster, and script. The second week is called “Stage Week” and starting on Monday, each group begins rehearsing for the live show at the end of the week on December 21st. Titcomb mentions that “this year [they] put on 17 plays in 2 hours and 10 minutes!”

Noelle Hayes, an eighth grader at Linden STEAM Academy says that she “was nervous, but [she] was looking forward to it after [they] figured everything out.” Hayes ended up loving the plays and expressed that it was “super fun to work with [her] friends to perform in front of everyone and show [their] skills.” Her favorite part was rehearsing because she made a lot of memories and had a lot of laughs, but she says that the hardest part was getting everything done in two weeks and making sure the performance turned out to be great.

Linden STEAM Academy students performing their rendition of a strange and mysterious play. Photo by Ailin Toro.

According to Titcomb, “This year the students did a great job! They were very creative with lots of plot twists, innovation, and creativity...” The goal with a project like this is to learn to work together as a group because it is never easy and “every year, students will argue, fight, debate, get angry and upset...” but in the end they learn to come together under a common goal. That goal is to get on stage and put on a show they are proud of! In the end, they will “laugh, smile, practice, collaborate, and overcome their differences.”

Titcomb points out that his favorite thing about the plays is that it is a full inclusion project meaning that every student is in a group and must participate by memorizing their lines in order for it to work. They only get one chance at getting the job done and it can be very stressful, but “99% of the time once the curtain closes - the students feel a great sense of accomplishment, pride, and achievement.”

To him, the most important part of the project is “conquering the fear of failure with great success.”  

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