Red Cloud Indian School, Pine Ridge, SD
Superhero Training began with the oogle, the Go Get ‘Em, and of course, breaking through the impossible!
The 3rd graders at Red Cloud Indian School were intrigued. Could they really become superheroes? What is the Superhero Spirit? And why can’t Laughing Moon learn to match his socks? Little did they know, their Superhero Training Academy began in secret at the very beginning of the year, and would culminate in the incredible, epic, out of control amazing Adventure Day.
It all began with a study of the Lakota Values, from Joseph Marshall’s book, The Lakota Way. These values were studied through Native stories, within local community members and family, and within themselves. Each student illustrated they own interpretations of the values from the stories.
The next part of the journey was a character study of animals, which integrated non fiction research report, clay biome creations, and a compare/contrast essay. Each student chose an animal to study, which became a mirror for themselves, learning how each animal’s abilities and vulnerabilities were similar or different from their own. How does the loyalty of the wolf live inside me? What can the orca teach me about how I am fearless? The cougar can leap 40 feet. How far can I leap?
The character study expanded to include archetypes, which became classroom jobs. The Fool started games or told jokes after recess. The Artist was in charge of the “Art Wall” and taught the class different art strategies. The Warrior watched out for lonely folks at recess and went to play with them. Animals and archetypes began to merge together and laid the foundation for Superhero Training Academy.
After breaking through the impossible, students were ready to visit the mythical and magical Possibility Emporium. The Possibility Emporium contained 6 billion years of cosmic collections, a superhero lockeroom, the stronghold of razzle dazzle doodads, the vault of villainry, and most importantly, the Superhero Spirit. It only appears when there is enough hero energy stirring inside many hearts, and it only appears for a few weeks. The first visit to the Possibility Emporium was proof that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.
With this extra oomph of cosmic creativity, the heroes began to create themselves into superheroes. They founded their Core Forces within fortitude, compassion, wisdom, and humility. Each found their superhero light and from that, created a costume and symbol to represent their highest, most extraordinary, ultimately uproarious self.
True Love: Encourages others to make the right choices. Thunderbolt: Makes others laugh with goofy faces.
The heroes practiced putting their Superpowers into action in the safe haven of the classroom. Firefly Ninja tested his dance moves, Quick Fire Quartz Knight created dozens of illustrations of invented characters to give away, Bubble Boy practiced including everyone in play.
Yet the true test was if they could put their superpowers into action across Red Cloud campus. Did they have the courage to burst into unfamiliar classrooms and offices? Into the elementary school, the middle school, the high school, the superintendent’s office, the Heritage Center? Could they blast into these places with the Go Get ‘Em, declare their “call of confidence”, and share their lights in ways that uplifted the lives of others?
Upon the dawn of a drizzling morning, the superheroes were offered the opportunity to adventure into Secret Missions. They accepted with thunder in their hearts and lightning in their eyes.
For the entire morning, these Superheroes performed their Secret Missions all across campus, interrupting classrooms and offices with laughter, artistic teachings, encouragement, love, and of course, superhero shenanigans.
Yet something unpredictable, nasty, and gruesomely grueling happened…the supervillains showed up and attempted to sabotage the show. They superhero-napped a few groups of superheroes, interrogating them, challenging them, and laughing when they found out that the superheroes did not know their shadows, which would surely make them easy to defeat.
The Superheroes escaped, with the help of Touches the Thunder, who scared away the villains with the Superhero Spirit. But how could the supervillains have found the Academy so quickly? They had come before Laughing Moon had imagined. And wait! What about the Possibility Emporium?
After lunch, the Superheroes scampered up to the Possibility Emporium, and what they found was worse than awful. It was worse than terrible. It was terriawful! The Supervillains indeed had found the Emporium, and they ripped it to shreds. They tore apart quotes from Mother Teresa and Rumi, they smashed the bottle of Neptune rain and let loose 6 billion year old air. They ransacked the Superhero lockeroom and spray painted “stupid hero lockeroom”. They ripped apart the Stronghold and graffitied the walls with phrases like, “You will fail!” and “Love stinks!” And worst of all, they had let loose all of the Villains in the Vault of Villainry. Ahhhhh!
The Explorer Soldier found a secret message from Iktomi, the Master Trickster.
The message clued the heroes into Iktomi’s plans to squash all goodness in every dimension. Yet it was not until the heroes got into the “Sanctuary of the Superhero Spirit” that they got really stung.
Instead of the Superhero Spirit, there was a vat of cat puke. Supervillains loved things that stunk, and cat puke was among their favorites. But it got worse. Underneath the vat of cat puke, there were letters written to each one of the superheroes—letters from the supervillains.
“Dear Angel Fartist…You can’t do art. Who are you kidding? Your art is worthless. You should crumble it all up and burn it. That would be better than giving it to others. Gnarling and Snarling, the Discourager.”
“Dear Rainblip Messenger…Why would you want to care for people who are lonely? They are lonely because they are nerds or dorks. Stick with the cool group, and be like them. Just do everything you can to fit in with them, and you won’t have any problems. Gnarling and Snarling, Masquerade.”
The heroes got perturbed, ruffled, even frustrated and angry. Yet they were not defeated. We analyzed how the supervillains tried to trick us into becoming supervillains. And then the heroes all wrote letters back.
“Dear Discourager…I know that you are trying to stop me from telling others to do the right things. I will always encourage others to do the right things. Yesterday I went in other classrooms and I told speeches about not doing drugs and to care for the Earth…You can be a superhero too. Turn your name from Discourager to Encourager. I think you’ll be a great Superhero. Grateful and Encouraging, True Love.”
Supervillains:0 Superheroes: 1
It was time for the heroes to take on their greatest challenge: to champion shadows within. Guided through their “Spectrum of Perspective” to look for their shadows in the places of their internal imbalances, the Superheroes created “Shadowscapes” to show and name their shadows. Each shared their shadows so that it would not turn into a fear.
And then, they smashed their shadows and turned them into trophies.
Since the Superheroes had not only honored their lights, but also championed their shadows, they were ready. And they had to be, because the Supervillains were planning to attack with a whole smorgasbord of smelly mayhem. The epic journey to defend the ways of the superhero was about to get even wilder: Adventure Day.
And so it says in the final phrase of the Superhero Oath…
“even if a gnarling, snarling monster stares me in the face
I promise to uplift the planet
and make it a peaceful place.”
And they did.