Last Friday, I was invited to the ivy-covered halls of Discovery Academy to observe a student Talent Show. Because I had not attended a high school Talent Show since my own high school days decades ago, I had no idea what to expect.
The auditorium at Discovery Academy was crowded with teens and staff members sitting on folding chairs. The sound equipment, which was meticulously arranged and rearranged by swift-footed staff members between each set, rivaled any professional concert I have attended.
The Talent Show began with a heartfelt rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. The audience responded with loud applause. Applause resounded throughout the performances. Many of the performances were genuinely applause-worthy. In particular, two students wrote their own original songs. The way they put their stories of pain and redemption into lyrics and music brought tears to my eyes.
However, whether the singers and dancers shone like shining stars or forgot their lines and moves, the audience stayed positive. I had a hard time imagining my own high school peers being so kind.
That positivity was by design, therapist Craig Rollo explained after the show. The Talent Show provided students with an opportunity to learn and grow, like most of what happens at Discovery Academy.
“For teens, nothing is more frightening than performing in front of your peers,” Craig said. Craig has ample experience with performing. He has a side gig as a DJ. He has performed in groups as varied as country western bands and providing backup vocals for a rap group.
The Talent Show was a means of helping teens to build their confidence. While Discovery Academy has a regular musical performance group which Craig leads, the Talent Show allowed teens the opportunity to stretch themselves. They had a chance to perform in front of their peers. It also gave peers the chance to support each other.
There was an impressive range of singing and dancing skills on display. The Talent Show certainly lived up to its name. However, what I remain the most moved by was the sense of being in a safe, supportive place.
The Talent Show was an opportunity for teens to build confidence and a supportive sense of community. Both the newfound confidence and group cohesion will benefit teens as they continue the healing process.