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Lessons from My Cast of Superheroes

Lessons from My Cast of Superheroes

By Tyler Crow

Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 3.44.02 PMThe term “Tech Week” sends shivers down my spine for two reasons: I am in a dark theatre for hours dominated by the responsibility of making sure we have a path to get Rapunzel’s tower onstage or getting a stage from the orphanage to New york City in less than fifteen seconds. I am shielded from the light of day and stars of night. Secondly, these are shivers of excitement. Tech week means that the opening of the show is upon us. Peter Pan will fly just like my superheroes at camp.

“Superheroes: Assemble!”

Superman, Wonderwoman, Batman, and an assortment of others all line up. But instead of towering above me as you might expect, they are clustered below me. This is because these superhumans are 5 years old, and the line is for the swimming pool. In Superhero Camp at Marcos Jewish Community Center of Atlanta Day Camps, I don’t believe in staidly ordering kids into “single file!” We know the room full of 5-year-olds, brandishing shirts with their favorite cartoon heroes, some even wearing full costumes, are much more likely to be attentive to our directives when we engage their imaginations.

Stage management and working with children are my two passions. My ability to orchestrate the buzzing jumble of campers comes directly from my background in stage management. As a stage manager, I’m not visible. In fact, the more inconspicuous my presence, the better. However, I still have the privilege to show what I, along with many others have worked tirelessly to bring to life. Then at camp, I’m the actor and the campers are my scene partners. I have the privilege to play off of their wonderful imaginations, with limitless possibilities.

It started with Fame–I was 11 when I worked as a crew member in a middle school production and fell in love with working backstage. The opportunity to be a spoke on the wheel of an art form that encompases many other singular arts was one I truly valued. Gradually the significance of my spoke became more vital. Beginning my freshman year, I became one of the centermost on the wheel. Similarly, four years ago I began working as a counselor-in-training. Two years later, I became a Group Counselor and last year, I was promoted to Lead Counselor. There are times where I am their counselor, an authority figure in charge of their well-being. However, in my four years climbing the ladder, I realized there were situations in which I needed to be their valiant captain in superpowers training.

The job descriptions for stage manager and lead camp counselor may seem divergent, and once upon a time, they appeared that way to me too. However, in retrospect, the parallels between the roles are striking. First and foremost, there is the meticulous interpretation of the camp’s curriculum and activities, which isn’t so different from taking a script and manifesting its stage directions — as well as the attendant set, props, and lighting needs. Additionally, I often have to improvise when things do not go exactly as planned.

Receiving praise is not my principal motivation. With that said, there is nothing more gratifying than facilitating someone else’s growth or performance — whether it be a part-time actor or a child who’s a part-time superhero.

“Thank you so much for making sure she is included. She loves Superhero camp.” Melissa’s mom told me as she picked up the cheery 5 year old camper. On the first day, her mom worried because her daughter was the only girl in a hoard of 15 boys. Instead, through my tactful inclusion of her into “boys club”, she had a blast, and so did I!

The unquantifiable warmth of kids running up to hug you, with arms outstretched and gleaming smiles, is as invaluable as the applause a show receives at the end of a performance. The positive energy is palpable and helps propel me to accomplish even more.

Tyler Crow, a graduate of Walton High School in Marietta, Georgia, will be a freshman at Emerson College in the fall.

Saved by the Television Station

by Jack Bushell

jackIt was the first time ever that my classmates felt unsafe. The mood in the hallways was somber. However, my creation would transform the sense of doom into one of the most spirited moments I have yet to witness, and become a major accomplishment in my transition to adulthood.

The horror happened on a football field during homecoming, one of the biggest and most celebrated weeks of the year. Homecoming week brings the traditional powderpuff football game, when the junior girls play the senior girls in touch football. During the game, a fight broke out between two girls. Many kids have never seen two girls brutally fight. Later a video of the fight went viral, tarnishing our school’s strong reputation.

I saw this moment as a time to make an impact with a project I created for the school. Earlier in the year, I founded Redwood TV, a station focusing on the life of the school which I shoot, edit, and produce every two weeks. I have always been one to look at inspirational videos to change my mood or pump me up before a sports game or any other challenge I face. I have studied videos made for professional sports teams with Interviews, time-lapses, and crowds cheering in excitement. I wanted to share the feeling of the videos that motivated me with my classmates.

While the community was engrossed in sorrow over the fight, I filmed all the lunchtime events featuring the Homecoming Kings and Queens. I put together a video of all of the best things that happened at homecoming, ignoring the fight that stole the attention of the week. The program aired Monday, and the students’ attention left the fight and went to all the other activities that had been forgotten. In just those 4 minutes and 30 seconds, I changed everything.

Through my homecoming show, I saw what concentration and persistence could produce. The night before the homecoming highlights aired, I gathered together all the footage, making sure everything was perfect. As I put together the highlights that weekend, I pictured students smiling. I scanned through the newest music, deciding what mood I wanted to instill in the school that morning. I looked for something that puts smiles on people’s faces, lifts school spirit and makes people enjoy Redwood High School. For this episode, I chose “Burn,” by Ellie Goulding.

Throughout most of my first two years in high school, sports dominated my life. My family and friends labeled me as a tri-athlete. My principal thought I should stick to sports when I approached him with the idea of Redwood TV, telling me, “Redwood TV will end up being a waste of your time and the school’s time.”

I proved him wrong, and he is now one of the strongest supporters of the station, joking that he does not want me to graduate so the station can continue. After being spotlighted at a state leadership conference for the Oregon Association of Student Councils, Redwood TV is known as one of the best high school television stations in the country .

Redwood TV has grown into a must-see at my school, with students often asking me when the next episode is airing and sharing exciting things in their lives that they hope can be featured. Today, when I enter a school event with my camera, I am bombarded with students approaching me, hoping they will be featured in Monday’s episode. Yet now I have a new mission: I am looking for a successor to train so the station can live beyond my graduation in June.

Jack Bushell is a freshman at Emerson College and a graduate of Redwood High School.


The Character of My Boat

The Character of My Boat

by Jack Bushell


Boats are like movie cameras and can grow into films or stories themselves. When you think a boat’s life is over–dead, think again; its ending grows into a new beginning. Boats can have many lives, as long as their captain has a dream and a good work ethic.

A couple of years ago, I purchased my first boat ever. My mom thought it would never see the life of water again, and was fit for a dumpster. Yet I am a dreamer and a filmmaker who saw another story resting in the old wood.  At first glance on Craigslist,  I dreamed beyond two quarter-sized holes, rusty brown metal bolts and peeling dusty chips of paint. I called the owner and bargained him down from 275 to 100.  In one day, I turned it into my dream with a freshly coated white outside and a clean black line that outlined the sides of the boat like a ribbon. The inside was sky blue, meshing perfectly with the outside.  I named it Reel Time.

I know dreams do not come true without hard work like sanding Reel Time for two hours. Once ridding her of the old dry paint, I added two coats of black paint on the bottom for protective coating. This completed a rebirth and created a new life for Reel Time.

Boats and fishing have been my passions since 5th grade. My love of film unfolded when I started my school’s television station last year.  Yet I can’t always divorce my attraction to film from the sea.  Last year, my English class read The Sound of Waves, which tells the story of a boy coming of age with the dream to captain his own fishing boat. As I read, my own dreams compelled me to bring the story to life in a film.

I visualized my camera following someone on a boat rocking up and down with a fishing pole.  I dreamed of shots of the harbor and the water reflecting in the sun. The next morning, I wrote the script after finishing my scrambled eggs. A few days later, my best friend, Zack, became an actor and the star of my film. Zack had never driven a boat, so I was driving and filming at the same time with the waves bouncing the boat up and down and the wind blowing the hat off my head. After two days of shooting and two nights of editing, The Sound of Waves came to life as a four-minute film.

While I love boats, I also tell stories through film beyond the water and live much of my life away from the sea. Yet fishing and boating influence my work ethic at school and as a three-sport athlete. Boating has nurtured my patience and persistence. While I don’t win Lacrosse games by holding a fishing rod, the lessons from the sea sail with me on the field, and set a model for the rule that hard work produces results.

Reel Time can also become a big story when she hits the water. Take Independence Day 2012. The story starts with a clear blue sky–ripe for fishing on Long Island Sound. I don’t have my camera, but I directed my own slideshow in my mind. As always the water and weather are major characters in the story. At one moment, I feel the sun’s heat. Five minutes later, the sky darkens. A new scene:  I dart towards Connecticut’s shores to avoid the storm. The waves were still crashing over the front of the boat and I was still getting sprayed with salt water. Within seconds, the water formed 2-foot waves, knocking our boat around. I paused to beat out the storm until it was safe to return to dock and end this story. Certainly Reel Time will help shape many more narratives in both my life and hers.

Jack Bushell, a freshman at Emerson College, is a 2014 graduate of Redwood High School.