LYNN — Adrian Marquez’s tale of skipping school and being captured on video tumbling down the stairs during his escape, won top prize Monday at the Lynn Classical High School Story Slam.
The senior pocketed the $500 prize for beating more than two dozen students in a Massmouth initiative to promote the art of storytelling.
The Boston nonprofit provided coaching and storytelling workshops to seniors and assisted them in telling a true, short story from their lives in front of an audience. Seniors packed Classical’s auditorium to hear their classmates stories come to life.
“My junior year was tough, I was always cutting class,” Marquez told the crowd. “The last time I did it I was at my locker, keeping an eye out for teachers, so anxious my heart was beating…and as I put my hand on the exit door, I heard a voice say ‘Where are you going?’ ”
Instead of stopping, he ran. But in doing so, he jumped over the stairs and landed on the ground. The next day, he confessed to Eugene Constantino, the school principal, who told him it was impossible to identify the person in the video.
“Mr. Constantino said since I took responsibility, I would not be punished,” he said. “I was just so relieved. The moral of that story is don’t walk out and don’t rat yourself out.”
Patty Frey, a Classical English teacher, said the storytelling workshop teaches essential speaking and listening language skills.
“We worked in class for three days on original writing,” she said. “Students evaluated each other and decided who gets to the Story Slam finals.”
Jessica Holm, a $250 second prize winner, choked back tears as she told her story about a man she called “Dad.” During her freshman year, she was at a friend’s house when her sister called and texted with urgency.
“I found out George had been killed in a motorcycle accident and I was really numb,” she said. “This past year, I met someone who taught me to live life everyday with a smile because I’m living my life for him since he didn’t get the chance to. It also taught me to appreciate everyone in your life, hold them close, and tell them you love them because you never know when the last time you will see them.”
Louis Brooks, the other second prize winner, recalled the first time he was in a high school production. His English teacher encouraged him to join the drama club. He won the part of Otto Frank, Anne Frank’s father, in the “The Diary of a Young Girl,” the tale of a teenager who was in hiding for two years with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.
“When you have a 17.3 percent average in English, you’ll do anything, Brooks said.
But two weeks before opening night, Brooks learned he was failing English and couldn’t be a part of the show unless his grades improved.
“I kicked it into overdrive, got my grades up and passed with a D+,” he said. “Even if you don’t feel like you want to do something or think you won’t be good at, it doesn’t mean that’s true. This was one of the most fun experiences of my life. When you’re onstage and get to be another person for a while…it’s something special.”
Sean Devin took home $100 for the Massmouth award for his story about “stealing” his father’s car. The Teacher’s Choice $100 award went to Ashley Calixte for her hysterical story about going bald thanks to her mother braiding her hair at an early age.
Christopher Baio started the one-hour show with the story of the death of his 11-year-old cousin, Nicholas, who suffered from Asperger’s syndrome, a mild form of autism.
“In an instant, I found out how cruel life can be,” he said. “Take each day as it is, try your best to be happy and try to make others happy because you never know when the last time you will see someone.”