In a lot of ways, my working relationship with Nikki is like a story from Doctor Who, with her as the Doctor (I think I’m more a Harry Sullivan type). She’ll call or text me out of the blue one day and invite me to join her on her latest adventure. And that’s really the best word for it: adventure.
Sometimes the way through the project is a straight path. Far more often it’ll have all these twists and turns before we get to the end of it. But we always end up where we need to go. And we always have a lot of fun getting there. I’m proud of all the things we’ve accomplished together.
And now, I’m especially proud of the work we’re doing to pass that sense of adventure on to the next generation.
You’ll hopefully recall that a couple of weeks ago I was spreading the word about Monarch Academy‘s first art show. Up in the Air was pretty ambitious for the school – a full reception for a collection of paintings by the students (with help from Pinot’s Palette), hosted by the Hilton San Antonio Airport hotel. We were all excited to see how it would come together.
And it really did come together. We must have had over 100 people there, all supporting our students, all celebrating their accomplishments. And all of the paintings sold. I’d like to repeat that – all of the paintings sold.
Looking back, Up in the Air was a fitting name for the show, and a fitting theme. I thought that even before the show. Monarch Academy is all about setting your sights higher, stretching the limits of what you think you can achieve. It’s why Nikki has fit in so well since she started teaching there. It’s why I never doubted this would succeed.
And it’s why I knew they were just getting started…
Ambitious as Up in the Air was, the next Monarch project was even more so: A theatre company. The students would perform. They would handle box office. They would serve food to guests.
Their first show would be a humorous take on the traditional story of Thanksgiving (I helped out with the script, with an assist from Jay, and would ultimately step in for a guest appearance). Since we’re talking about Thanksgiving, a sweet little twist was added. This would be a “dessert theatre” show; we’d treat the audience to a sampling of desserts (made by the school’s Bridge program), then we’d treat them to the performance.
Again, an extremely ambitious project, especially for a school for children with special needs. But that was the point. It’s not enough to settle for what you know you can do. You have to try for something greater.
And so we pressed forward, a dedicated family of teachers and staff and parents and volunteers. We wrote. We rehearsed. We rewrote. We built sets. We secured costumes. Never for ourselves. Always for the students.
It all led up to the day. Everyone was there. Everyone was ready. Everyone was excited.
And everyone put on a great show. The kids did great. The audience loved it. And at the end, we’d accomplished something that might have been impossible.
Because it never occurred to any of us to think it was impossible.
That’s what working with Monarch Academy, and working with Nikki, does to you. It takes you out of your comfort zone. It forces you to think creatively. It makes you question what you can do, and realize you can do more. Quite possibly anything.
That’s what these students need. Really, it’s what all of us need. I think that’s why Nikki has succeeded so well with these extraordinary kids. And I’m proud to have a small role in that success.
There’s much more in the works for Monarch Academy. There are ideas I’m sure nobody has even thought of yet. But I know I’ll get that call or text soon enough.
And I’ll walk through those doors for the next adventure.
Thanks to all the parents, teachers, administrators, volunteers. To anyone and everyone who helped make the last two weeks possible. To all of you for reading, And, of course, to Nikki for bringing me along.
Until next time, allonsy!