Year 5. Session 1. Week 1.

To quote one learner, the highlight of this week was “the sight of new faces who could be new friends.” The first days in Discovery consisted of Tribe-uniting challenges and riveting Socratic discussions.

Learners launched the Question of the Year: What voice does a Hero listen to? This interactive poster represents a starting point of curiosity, growth, and reflection for each individual to return to throughout the next seven sessions. Calming the mind and the body to gather in group is a grounding practice that will continue all year.

As Discoverers settled into their space they embarked on a journey alongside one another. Getting to know fellow Travelers was the main mission this week. Although embracing joy, inviting fun, and encouraging laughter were important side quests. It all started with a series of team-building games. The Bucket and Balls Challenge required precise fine motor skills and excellent collective communication. The premise: each person holds the end of one string. All of the strings are connected to a container holding five foam balls. The objective: using only the strings to maneuver, deliver all five balls from the larger container to a smaller one. Drop your string, and the system collapses. Pull too tight, you might create tension. With just the right amount of strength and gentleness, every member of Discovery completed the challenge. 

Animal Calls momentarily transformed the studio into a safari. Each learner navigated the room imitating the sound of an animal, seeking out another animal making the same sound. The key takeaway: search through the noise to find resonant connection. 

Next up was the Blanket Challenge. Think of it as an elevated take on the name game. A guide holds a blanket in the middle of the circle while two learners stand on either side. On the count of three, the blanket is dropped. The first person to correctly call out the name of the person before them wins. This was an energetic, entertaining way to interact with fresh faces and familiar faces alike. One thing is clear from observing this challenge: a bond has begun among everyone. 

Finally, the team-building tournament of the week came to a climactic conclusion with the Catapult Challenge. This activity served as the first opportunity to work within Squads. A Squad is a small group of four or five Discoverers who, with the stewardship of a Squad Leader, support one another in all areas of studio life. Every Squad received two Ziploc bags containing one plastic spoon, twenty popsicle sticks, and ten rubber bands. Receiving no instructions, learners saw only a brief set of model catapults before dividing into Squads and getting to work. Each Squad submitted their finest model and the catapult competition commenced. Learners participated in judging the contest as each catapult was tested for strength and effectiveness by using balls of various weights. 

Creativity and choreography were on full display during Lip Dub rehearsals and filming. The annual Acton Academy Lip Dub is a network-wide music video competition. The song choice was revealed to be This Is Me, a triumphant anthem from the soundtrack of The Greatest Showman. Practice made progress as the studio devoted time in small groups of six to memorize lyrics and learn dance moves. After each take, footage was reviewed and improved until excellence was found. Be on the lookout for the link in the days to come! 

Through a story set in 2043, twenty years from now, the Tribe got a glimpse into a shared future. This version of reality showcased the intertwined nature of all people and things. Perhaps two decades from today, this week will be remembered fondly. To some, these were the first steps toward a new phase in life. To many, these moments are major milestones in a continuing Hero’s Journey. To all, these were the first pages in a chapter that will be written together. Onwards, adventure awaits!