26 February – The second day of iChoose proved another thrilling day for the team. Staff and students of Albany Senior High School warmly welcomed cast and crew onto their gorgeous campus. Albany is a state-of-the-art facility where, according to Principal Barbara Cavanagh, students are focused on as young adults. All along the corridors these young adults voiced their excitement at the appearance of this visiting group of young performers.
As the show began, teachers and somewhat fidgety students were taken by surprise at iChoose’s emotional power, and they were quick to go along for the ride. Even beyond the performance, students responded to the individual experiences shared by the cast, testimonials regarding issues that matched the students’ own personal struggles.
Following the show, a majority of the students joined with the cast members to share their own experiences of how passive violence and bullying had affected their lives. Later, cast and crew were again welcomed by Barbara Cavanagh and presented with gifts in appreciation of their efforts to spread awareness of the various forms of violence at a time when New Zealand schools had been experiencing an excessive amount of violence.
The afternoon venue provided a shift of scenery from the ultramodern Albany to the more stately 36-year-old Tangaroa College. Tangaroa, whose school website proclaims its pride in offering opportunities to Years 7–13 students “to experience and grow their languages and cultural understandings,” served as a homecoming for some of the cast members.
As students entered the school stadium for the performance, they seemed enthralled by the various showmanship aspects of the professional entertainment they were about to witness—the lighting setup, the sound system and the iChoose banners. They remained highly responsive to the messages delivered throughout the performance.
Afterward, the students experienced a deep sense of connection with the cast, especially former Tangaroa students Lole and Isaac. Students and staff contributed highly positive feedback, thanking the iChoose team for having beautifully exposed a major issue prevalent in that particular suburb.
Among the many comments submitted by students and faculty members were the following:
“It was entertaining and gave me goose bumps. I learned about passive violence and bullying.” • (Magan)
“At first, I thought it was a little silly, and then I found it really started to give me chills and make me think about bullying. I liked that the real-life stories were ones we could all relate to in some way.” • (Charlie)
“It was entertaining and very interesting to watch. I learned about bullying.” • (Anonymous)
“I really liked it. The actors were very good and showed real emotion. I could relate very well. I learned that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself and that I’m amazing. I also learned that everyone is going through something and they try to hide it.” • (Hope)