Did you hear the news? This year, 100 percent of Ballou High School’s senior class applied to college! We could not be more proud of the graduating class of 2017. Wow!
This an exciting accomplishment for any school, but for Ballou it represents an incredible effort on behalf of a very dedicated team of people: the school administration, counselors, senior class teachers, and of course the students, all of whom were motivated to dream bigger and set higher expectations for themselves and for the next generation.
We at Shout Mouse are honored and proud to also be part of this team, as this year our story coaches supported nearly 50 members of the senior class in writing their personal statements for college applications. This has been an ongoing commitment for Shout Mouse -- since the fall of 2013, every year we have been coaching the students of Ballou to write authentic personal stories for college and scholarship applications. We are so motivated by this project, as there is no time that telling their stories powerfully on the page can have a greater impact on the trajectory of their lives. We are also proud to be part of the movement to make college accessible, expanding horizons of possibility for all students. We don’t believe that college is the only path to a happy, successful future, but in many communities, simply having options is an enormous step in the right direction.
Over the past four years, in working to unearth these stories for college applications, the Ballou Story Project was born, and three beautiful books manifested as a result: How to Grow Up Like Me, Our Lives Matter, and Humans of Ballou. The stories that have come out of the college application process at Ballou are often ones that don’t get told and don’t get celebrated. By simply providing the necessary platform, students are able to write and publish those stories, which lends a special sort of agency. We believe that holding agency over one’s own voice is fundamental to the development and wellness of our writers, and to writers everywhere.
This year, as part of our mission of providing effective and innovative ways of amplifying unheard voices, we are doing something different. On Thursday, April 13 at 7 p.m., with the help of our partners at Young Playwrights’ Theater, Ballou Story Project 4 will hit the stage. That’s right. Our authors are now playwrights writing for professional actors!
For weeks, students have worked very hard to polish their personal statements and then to adapt them for the stage. I think we can all agree those are two ambitious tasks that our writers have handled with grace and maturity. We are so very excited for this next step in the Ballou Story Project journey and we can’t wait for you to see it (and shout about it!)
If you’re in the DC area, come join us April 13, and spread the word! RSVP here.