Activities were geared around helping students appreciate their own unique strengths and goals and included after-school yoga and meditation training, lunch time competitions and a healing workshop by Woods Cross High School's IMPACT team.
Kick-off for what has been traditionally known as Pow-Wow week was an assembly by magician and motivational speaker, Brad Barton.
"All magic is illusion--lies, if you will," says Barton. "And all of it is performed in one of three categories: slight of hand, misdirection or mental conditioning."
The analogies of slight of hand and misdirection are simple yet profound, and as concepts are readily embraced by students eager to grab hold of their dreams. But, then, everyone has dreams, or did at one time, Barton tells his audience.
He cautions his audience not to "sell a dream away for a current small desire;" to work to discover the greatness within themselves.
"You see dream catchers all around your school. Use that visual image to help you identify your dreams--your hopes--and then hold onto those," he says.
Magicians have a lot in common with philosophers--they each want their "truth" to become the truth for someone else. Barton is careful to distinguish for his audience the difference between illusion and reality, as he lays down the "truths" he hopes to instill:
- Mentally condition yourself.
"Be open to the opportunities of life ( the magic) by asking yourself, 'Who's got the magic?' and knowing that YOU have the magic."
- Go find yourself a mentor. "Champions are born, made and unmade. Make yourself a champion every day."
- Life is full of all kinds of tricks. "There are cheap cheesy to fast and furious." Know what is real and what is illusion.
The "magic" continued all week, concluding with select classes having an opportunity to view Woods Cross High School's IMPACT group perform and discuss topics that can halt the magic of life.
"Carousel" is a multi-layered vignette with three students standing on chairs and six students circling them with an up-down motion similar to a carousel.
This dramatization took a look at the three students in the center as they discussed their situations: a mother who says her daughter is pretty and skinny, a dad who throws great parties for his son, a young teen whose neighbor enjoys her company so much he invites her over for munchies and videos.
But as the "carousel" continues to turn, the ugly truth is revealed: the first girl doesn't believe her mom and is anorexic, the boy's dad is an alcoholic and beats his mother, the last girl is being sexually abused by her neighbor.
The analogies were not lost on the high school audience.
"It's like life--sometimes you're up and sometimes you're down," commented one student.
"Even if you get sick, you have to stay on until it stops. Sometimes you feel like you're held hostage," said another student.
"It seems so magical, like it's not real. Sometimes stuff feels good at first, but then you really look at it and it's only pretty on the outside, the inside is a wreck," concluded another.
More vignettes followed along with open dialogues on what symptoms to watch for and where to turn for help.
"Surprisingly," said IMPACT coordinator Janet Cook, "even parents who want to help their teens are often unsure as to where to turn for help.
"Sometimes, it's even better to tell a school counselor. They are trained to help with these situations, can guide parents and the problem teen to solutions.
"Life is really full of beauty. We all have trouble finding it, and that's where good friends with courage come in."