A Celebration of Imagination

BoSTSThe 2014-15 Best of Stories that Soar! was the place to be this past Sunday, May 17. The Captain and his cactus sailed in on a cruise ship, the Monkey arrived by way of an asteroid, stars fell from the sky, and children and their families drove in from across Southern Arizona for the celebratory season finale at the historic Temple of Music and Art.

This year, Literacy Connects’ Stories that Soar! program visited 15 elementary schools representing seven school districts. Thanks to the voracious appetite of the story eating Magic Box, over 6,700 students were inspired to write 8,109 stories to fuel our most successful season to date! What was evident this year was that children are writing about their lives—epic adventures, immigration, family dynamics, and the importance of relationships. These stories give us little peeks into their worlds and what it means to belong to our community.

Picking the handful of stories to be presented at the end of the year showcase was a tremendous challenge. Artistic Director Sharon O’Brien and Production Manager Dallas Thomas deliberated for eight hours over the selection. O’Brien reflected, “We wanted to not only represent the full range of story themes children write, but also the spectrum of styles the multi-talented troupe of adult performers use to present them on stage.” Literacy Connects’ Board Member Dana Pitt commented on the heightened level of energy at this year’s event, wondering if it came from the increased number of authors and families in attendance, many who may have read about the program in the recent AZ Daily Star article.

The event also highlighted more partnerships by including youth performers.  The Desert View drama students who worked with the Stories that Soar! High performed during the mid-show reception and Tucson Circus Arts youth performed a piece alongside the professional actors on stage, as well as during the mid-show reception. There is certainly no denying that having a troupe of Girl Scouts as dancing pirates added something special to the festivities!

Most importantly, the event was an opportunity to elevate young writers and show them, and the community, the amazing possibilities when we share our stories through the arts.

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