It’s over. It’s finally over.
I just can’t seem to get that thought out of my head. In the days leading up to the night, time flew by faster than I could I realized. However, in the hours leading up to that momentous moment on stage, time slowed to an agonizing crawl. I must have rehearsed my speech at least forty times in the moments leading up to the speeches. Somehow last year it all seemed to take too long, but this year the set-up time seemed too short, even though it was nearly the same. Whilst trying to assist others with their large items, my learning centre was only complete with about five minutes to spare.
Although these moments seemed much too fast, as soon as we entered the MPR to prepare the speeches, minutes ticked away as if they were hours. That was the moment that it really sunk in for me that in a bit above an hour, I would be standing in front of a packed crowd, reciting a speech that I didn’t think I had fully memorized. The nights before, I felt as if my speech was memorized perfectly, but as parents began to arrive I started to question whether or not I had memorized it enough to not let my nerves get the best of me.
It was at this point that the anxiety started to settle in. Even after years of public speeches, this somehow felt different. It was a new feeling. It was a feeling that somehow this was more important. This was more important than any other school project I had ever done. And in a way, I guess that was true.
This is because of two reasons: This project is not about a mark, it’s about an experience. Secondly, it wasn’t a solo event, the entire night revolved around a team. This was when I started rehearsing my speech, over and over again.
Finally the doors were opened, and parents began to stream in. Behind the curtains with the afternoon class, people paced about, mouths forming the words they would soon say but not a sound would come out. People dealt with their stress in different ways. I found a guitar to play, Jackson repeated over and over again the he was going to be okay, a group of people prayed to the sun in a last ditch attempt for the aid of the gods, so that they may flow through their speeches without stumbling. Finally the deep, booming voice of Mr. Jackson was heard through the curtains. It was time. The MCs recited their lines, and the first sacrifice was now to be made. Jamie was to be the sacrifice, and as he stepped on stage it seemed as if we all stopped our pacing, our speech reciting, and began to tremble. I was not sure what he was doing, all I knew was that he was going to place a rose on the ground before starting. It seemed as if he paused for too long, maybe he choked? But luck was on our side as he flowed through the words of his speech with utmost precision. Alison was next, then Ryan, and then me. When it was finally my time to enter the stage, the only thing going through my mind was “Why are they clapping. Why would they clap when CLEARLY we had rehearsed transitions?”. I realized that nobody remembered to tell them not to clap. It took an awkward ten seconds for them to start before I could begin a choppy transition, which was supposed to happen immediately after Ryan had stepped off.
I’ve been in plenty of stressful situations, and one thing that I’ve learned is that once you start, everything will disappear, you’ll be calm and collected, nothing can stand in your way. Except for when your performing an Eminent speech. This was literally the only time that the stress didn’t go away for me, instead I was out of my mind all the way until I stepped off stage. But I finished. And I soon as I did it became clear to me that behind the curtains, invisible to the audience, we were a a community not separated by stress, but bound together by the moments in which we feel the weakest. Behind those heavy green curtains, everyone was everyone’s friend. Support was the only thing found, a silent support that one could only understand if they were there in the moment, after having stepped off of the stage with your heart rate reaching a point where paramedics would be concerned for your health. This was what will stick with me about Night of the Notables.
Going back to the learning centres was a welcome break, no longer did we have to worry about a memorized speech, now we just had to play a character. Nothing more. This is when it was all wrapped up for me, all the goals of the project. Setting out, my main goal was finding out about the learning centre of who I think is one of the best teachers to walk this earth. Everyone tells you that interactive activities are one of the most engaging ways to learn, and that became evident during the learning centre period. There was only a few short minutes that I didn’t have someone holding the air cannon which I had brought. Parents and children alike were eager to try it, and in the second half of the night, once the crowds had begun to die down, a group of alumni were at my station for 45 minutes, trying to push the limits of what I would allow them to do. The end result was ripping three large holes in the target that I had set up. Not that I minded at all, it was expendable. The issue, however, was the with just a slightly increased PSI in the air valve, the projectiles would have shot a clean hole in the wall. I don’t really think I could have had a better activity at my station.
Coming into grade ten I was not expecting it to be an infinite increase over grade nine, but I was more wrong than I can imaging. A message to all grade nines: Believe me, if you thought that grade nine Eminent was exciting (or even a bit boring), nothing can prepare you for what you’ll experience in grade ten.