5 months ago

Inspiring teenagers

Turning to the audience

Turning to the audience once more, Riccardo resumed his teacher’s voice. "So what do you think is the right thing to do? Shall I take the money and never ask again?" He tossed the question out to every teenager in the room. "What would you do?" In a gentle tone, Riccardo embellished his story with numbers. "Think about how much allowance you get per year. How much is it, in total? Add up that number and keep it in mind as we go on with the story." Riccardo demonstrated receiving money, saying, "My dad gave me a bundle of notes, half a year’s pocket money in one go." Then he turned to the actor and concluded their scene with a smiling, "Thanks, Dad," and inviting him offstage. The audience applauded. Riccardo pretended to count the bills, putting them into his back pocket and patting it. "That was fun," exclaimed the inner voice. "Want to do it again?" it asked. "Now what did I need next?" Riccardo asked the audience in his teacher’s voice. Answering his own question, he said, "I felt I needed to get the headteacher and other teachers onboard with my idea. Even if they said no, at least I had half a year’s pocket money." Riccardo patted his back pocket for emphasis. "I chose to speak with the headteacher." Riccardo thus opened the next scene, and added rhetorically for the audience, "How would you feel about that?" He smiled as he scanned the audience. "I don’t know how it is for you but for me, speaking to the headteacher was daunting. The roller-coaster was going uphill again. I got scared," Riccardo confided. "The night before I was going to speak with the headteacher, I made a plan in my mind." He pointed at his head to show he was thinking. 42

"What do you think was my plan? What if you want the headteacher to agree with you making money, by selling sweets to eight hundred schoolchildren at lunchtime. What would you say first?" Riccardo took a beat. "This is how it went for me." Catching the eye of another boy sitting on the edge of his seat, Riccardo made another snap decision. "Oh and I see that my headteacher is here today, sitting in the front row… come on up, sir. I’m glad you could make it." Riccardo waved his open hand at the student, inviting him to come onstage in front of everyone. As the new student-now-actor came onstage, Riccardo prepared him in hushed tones. "Just say whatever you think the headteacher might have said. I will work with whatever you say. Okay?" Positioning the new actor as the headteacher, Riccardo spoke the first lines of his next scene. "Sir, may I have a moment?" he asked the actor. "Yes, you may," the actor replied in character. "I have an idea and I need your thoughts and maybe your approval," Riccardo continued. "Yeeeesss. Okay," the actor agreed. "I understand there’s a problem with smoking at the school," began Riccardo. "Yes, that’s right," the actor concurred. "And you have asked the teachers to sort it out," Riccardo pressed on. "Yes, I have," the actor acknowledged. 43

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