Oct. 25 – The Athens, AL Storytelling Festival welcomed nearly 4,500 school-aged spectators through its doors last week.
“Our student scrutineers did a great job, and the good thing is that the students in the audience were so proud of those who stood up there,” Leah Oakley said. “They clapped when each student was announced, and they clapped when they finished. They almost gave them a standing ovation.”
A student lost her place in history and “students started chanting ‘you can do it,’ ‘you can do it,'” Oakley said. “It still gives chills. It was the coolest part of the week.”
The Storytelling Festival was a unique experience for student storytellers and spectators.
“I think they (the scrutineers) have gained confidence. It’s hard to stand up in front of everyone. The professional scrutineers were very impressed with our students’ stories,” Oakley said. “Some were made up, some were more personal, some were ghost stories; they did a wonderful job.”
She went on to say, “They had the satisfaction of ‘hey, I can write a story, then I can tell it. “”
The festival was an opportunity for many students to learn to be an audience member for the first time.
“It was really fun to watch them because they really got it. Our professional tellers did a great job engaging our students,” Oakley said. “They called a few of them up on stage to help with a story.”
“They settled down, they listened. You could have heard a pin drop, they were really into it,” Oakley said. “They did a great job.”
Schools are grateful for the opportunity to participate in the festival.
“The Storytelling Festival is a wonderful opportunity to hear from the best storytellers in the country, and we are so grateful to our legislators for making it available to our students free of charge,” said Beth Patton, Superintendent of Schools at the city of Athens. “Storytelling is truly an art, and we couldn’t be prouder of our Golden Eagles selected to take to the stage and share in front of their peers and the community.”