Creative expression is a staple in building an innovative educational environment. Arts and College Preparatory Academy (ACPA) in Columbus, Ohio, provides progressive, rigorous academic instruction where students are motivated to learn and prepare for college. A hallmark of the ACPA community is allowing students the freedom of full artistic expression and movement in a safe, inclusive climate. These qualities make ACPA the perfect home for Six-Word Memoirs to thrive.
Ben Shinabery, Development Director for ACPA, describes the marriage of Six Words and ACPA as seamless. Shinabery met Larry Smith by reading one of his Six Words shirts at the Columbus Arts Festival last summer. “I thought his shirt was interesting. So we began to talk.”
From there, Shinabery was inspired to incorporate Six Words into ACPA’s curriculum: “Once students started hanging their Six-Word Memoir art in the hallways, momentum picked up quickly.” ACPA’s hallways are embellished with Six Words story art, making the transition between classes an interactive narrative window into each students’ lives. Shinabery’s enthusiasm for the project also grew as participation spread.
In honor of Six Words, ACPA offered students a challenge; create a performance based on your own Six-Word Memoir. Students were given total creative liberty and delivered stage performances that trailblazed an innovative way to explore Six-Word Memoirs.
Six Words wasn’t just limited to English classes, but transcended through out the school. “German students were creating their own Six Words in German, dance and music instructors were getting their students to create a dance or a song based off of their memoir.”
Each performance opened with a student’s Six-Word Memoir, followed by an artistic manifestation of their memoir’s backstory. Performances ranged from spoken-word poetry to dance and acoustic indie-rock. Two students, Shania and Kendall, created an improv skit in only six words.
The breadth of talent at ACPA was displayed throughout the evening. Students delivered powerful performances that spoke of heartache, passion, a need for acceptance, happiness—their honest stories exhibited the supportive relationships between the students and staff.
Chloe, a sophomore, played acoustic guitar and performed a song she wrote specifically for the occasion to showcase her Six-Word Memoir: “When I can’t speak, I sing.” Chloe explains that Six Words exemplifies the quality of learning and teaching at ACPA: “You only have six words to make a statement and the artistic level of the memoirs proves how wonderful of a school ACPA really is.”
The night concluded the way most Six-Word Memoir events end: with a Six Words Slam. Students were thrilled to have another shot at delivering their Six-Word Memoirs for an audience. Six Words is excited to play a role in the ACPA educational experience; leaving not only a presence in their hallways, but also touching the creative souls of their students. —Ali Calori
Teachers! Since we first launched the Six-Word Memoir project, educators across the spectrum have found Six Words to be a terrific classroom assignment and catalyst for self-expression. At our Six in Schools section, we celebrate students’ work from classrooms around the world. Let us know what your classroom is up to and we might feature your students’ work on our blog.