This year, after many years of waiting, Griffin’s Tale Theatre, Northwestern University’s Children’s Repertory Theatre Company, began collaborating with Baker! Since 1989, Griffin’s Tale Theatre has been taking stories and poems written by local students and turning them into skits, sketches, songs, raps, dances, and more! Once finished, performers from Griffin’s Tale Theatre visit the schools these amazing students attend and perform their stories for them. The students have no idea whose writings were chosen until each story is announced in the performance, so the performance is filled with even more delight!

First grade teacher, Carin Peacock, was instrumental in bringing this program to Baker. She and several other faculty members had worked with the Griffin’s Tales Theatre in the past. They saw what an incredible experience it was for the students and were certain it was a great fit for Baker. As you can imagine, this program is competitive and highly sought after. After many years of waiting, they finally selected Ms. Peacock’s application. This program was sponsored by The Betty Weeks Storytelling Fund at Baker, which we greatly appreciate! For those who don’t know, Betty Weeks was a fixture of Baker Demonstration School for several decades as a beloved kindergarten teacher whose gift and love for storytelling was one of the many ways she endeared herself to the community. The Betty Weeks Storytelling Fund was put in place to continue her storytelling legacy after her retirement.

Students in grades first through fifth would submit writings for Griffin’s Tale Theatre to consider. Teachers were instructed to submit student stories, poems, or other writings by Thanksgiving break. Nearly every child from first through fifth grade had a piece of writing submitted. Our students are already excited to submit stories for next year. Selected writings from our students in each grade were chosen for the stage adaptations. This year’s authors included (in grade-level and alphabetical order):
Alani B. (1B)Josie G. (2A), Hana L. (2A),  Sadie C. (3A), Ximena U. (3B), Rivka M. (4A), Libby G. (5A), and Alicia A. (5B)

Many months passed between when writings were submitted and the performance. Some students had forgotten about their submissions, making the content of the show a complete surprise to most. As the performance approached, faculty reintroduced the project while demonstrating the length of time it takes for written words to be adapted for a live performance. Adding to the excitement, prior to the performance, students were not aware of whose writings were selected to be adapted for the stage. Parents were notified that their child’s writing was selected and secretly attended the performance. Students whose writings were selected were able to take pictures with the performers. It was a special day for all the students, but especially these burgeoning writers.

In true Baker fashion, the students whose writings were not selected were incredibly supportive of their fellow classmates! As each sketch was introduced, and the writer unveiled, the crowd echoed with “oohs and aahs” of excitement for their peers. Because we foster a non-competitive and supportive learning environment, the level of excitement during the performance was extremely high! Students loved seeing how their words came to life on stage.

The Griffin’s Tale players are very excited to return to Baker next year, and the students are equally excited to have this new tradition continue! Now that the students have been exposed to the process, some have already expressed enthusiasm for getting started on their submissions for next year.

Thanks to our incredible faculty, specifically the efforts of Ms. Peacock, and the storytelling committee for bringing this new tradition to Baker! To see the entire video of the performance, which was live-streamed on Facebook, click here. We look forward to seeing the next Griffin’s Tale performance featuring Baker’s young writers in April of 2018!