Sunday, December 14, 2014

"Shine A Light" Recording

On Tuesday, December 9th, eighteen students had the chance of a lifetime!  They were able to go and record a song at the Mayne Stage in Chicago created in honor of the work that McCracken has been doing for the past five years to help A Better Life for Kids.

When Wendy Morgan heard Ms. Ciok talking about A.C.T. and A Better Life for Kids last spring on NPR's Worldview, she was inspired by what she heard.  She emailed Ms. Ciok and asked how she could help.  Upon hearing that Wendy was a musician and a part of a popular singing duo called Wendy & DB, Ms. Ciok asked if they would be interested in writing a song for A.C.T.  Wendy jumped at the chance to be a part of it and asked for the students to brainstorm words that they would use to describe the work being done at McCracken and in Ghana.  From there, "Shine A Light" was born.  This song is a great reflection of all that is being done to make the world a better place.

In November, the task of raising money for the actual recording was underway!  Through Donor's Choose, many people gave money to this project, as they saw what an impact it could make.  From local community members to people in Spain, 37 different donors came together to make this project happen.  Paige from Georgia said, "I gave to this project to contribute to a cause greater than myself.  I wish you all the best of luck!"  The Lu Family, who are community members, said, "Thank you for providing our children with opportunities to help children around the world hav ea better life.  The stories you share about the children in Ghana have made my own children feel like they are not just helping a face, but now rather helping a friend.  You are teaching empathy and compassion to us all.  It was amazing and so touching to watch this project get funded.

Then rehearsals began.  Wendy and Dean Rolando, her pianist, came two times to rehearse with the kids.  Amy Keipert, the McCracken music director, gave up countless lunches to help the kids get ready.  Here are some pictures from the after school rehearsals.

And then came the big day!  Upon arrival at Mayne Stage on December 9th, everyone realized that this was different than just being at school.  It was a real stage with real sound equipment.  Many people were running around doing sound checks, videotaping and making sure things were ready to go!  Then the recording began.  For two hours, the students sang Shine A Light over and over again.  They took different parts, sang lines again and again.  Everyone learned a little bit that day about what going into making a song perfect for a record!  

And then, suddenly, the recording was finished!  A celebration of pizza and cake was had by all, and at the celebration, Wendy & DB made the announcement that 5% of their next album sales will go to A Better Life for Kids!  All in all, it was a wonderful day!  Look for the release of the single very soon!

Here's a sneak peak of the song:  

Thanks to Mike Isaacs for another wonderful story in the Skokie Review!  We so appreciate your support!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A.C.T. Visitors!

There have been many visitors to A.C.T. over the past few weeks!  On Friday, November 21st, we had a visit from a future A.C.T. member (hopefully), who has been selling her scarves to benefit A Better Life for Kids.  She made a few extra sales at the meeting, as her scarves are beautiful!  Sally Battle also visited to pick up the castle for the Winter Warm Up Gingerbread House event.  The kids did a great job on the castle!  And then, at that same meeting, we had a visit from Ms. Nizynski and Ms. Chambers from Middleton!  Needless today say, we felt very lucky to see so many people who support our efforts!

Then, on December 1st, we had another exciting visitor-- Wendy Morgan and pianist, Dean Rolando.  They were there to work on the song, Shine A Light for our recording on December.  Thanks to Amy Keipert, Wendy and Dean, the kids are sounding great!  Tuesday should be awesome!  Stay tuned to this site for information on how to get your copy of the song, which will benefit A Better Life for Kids!

Future A.C.T. member?  What beautiful scarves!

 Our finished product!

December 1st rehearsal

Shine A Light!

Then, on December 6th, there were some past and present ACT members that came to volunteer at an outside event for A Better Life for Kids.  It's always great to see the group come back together to make a difference in the world!

Mrs. Ciok's children beginning their gingerbread pirate ship!
Past and present ACT members!

ACT represented!  What a house!

Beautiful music!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Season of Thanks!

ACT has had a busy month!  We have been working on random acts of kindness for the teachers using acrostic poems, along with finishing the castle for the Gingerbread House (Winter Warm-up for Ghana) event!  The colorful "Candyland" castle came out great, and the poems spread a little joy to all the teachers.

Then, on November 13th, we had the opportunity to take a field trip to the Illinois Holocaust Museum.  We visited the RACE exhibit and the Miller Youth Exhibit.  After learning how race was invented and what it means to be an upstander, we all had a great discussion about what we have seen in our own lives and how it impacts our world both in and outside of school.  The students were very respectful, and we definitely learned something while we were there.

Our next event will be the recording of a song specifically written for ACT by the singing duo Wendy & DB.  It's going to be an amazing experience, and the proceeds from the sale of the song will benefit A Better Life for Kids.  Check out our Donor's Choose site to help finish our funding for this great event: 

The finished product!

Field Trip!

ACT at the IHMEC!