Program Summary: 'Personal Legends' is an eight-week program in which students write a legend about themselves in third-person narrative. The program provides a self-empowering experience through creative writing, art, and performance. Students showcase their collective works by reading each others' legends aloud in order to honor and encourage one another to embody their greatness.
Goals and Objectives: The primary goal of this program is to offer students an engaging supplement to their regular classroom curriculum that helps them meet state standards in English and Language Arts at their grade level. The program engages students in a positive, cooperative way that raises self-esteem, and addresses underlying issues of self-worth and dignity.
2016 MLK Celebration, Historic Ashland Armory, Ashland OR.
Brent Florendo’s Dancing Spirit Drum interprets a story from ONTASC's Student Legends program:
“The Dancer,” written by 6th grade student, Ace Wright.
The following stories were written by 6th grade students at Chiloquin Elementary in Chiloquin, OR. Our process involved exploring life challenges, personal strengths, cultural identity, bullying and more. Students then created stories in third person narrative with themselves as the protagonists.
The Children of Chiloquin
Myths and Legends
THE DARKER IT GETS, THE BRIGHTER I BECOME
A long time ago a legend was told about a young girl named Crystal. She lived alone in the woods, pushed down by the wind. Crystal was intelligent, smart, and beautiful. She would hear voices when the moon was full. It sounded like someone was giving her advice. Crystal found out the next day that she could talk to animals. She knew every animal except the wolf. The other animals called him ‘The Predator.’ All the animals feared him.
One night, Crystal heard the wolf talking to the moon about how he felt misunderstood. The next day she stood up to the wind for the first time. She was stronger after that, and thought she might be ready to face the wolf. Crystal cautiously approached him. The wolf growled at Crystal. Crystal ran away as fast as she could.
“Hey, come back!” yelled the wolf. The wolf didn’t want her to leave. Crystal knew that every night, on the full moon, the wolf came out to talk to the moon. Crystal waited until the next full moon. As expected the wolf was there. This time, Crystal didn’t run. Crystal and the wolf became friends. “I will call you, Howler” Crystal said. But they did not have a very good friendship. Howler pushed her around all the time, until Crystal stood up to him and said, “I will not be pushed around anymore! I’m tired of all your grouchiness! If you need a friend, next time go ask the moon!”
The wolf cried and ran away. Cystal felt bad, but she knew it was the right thing to do. Now, when the moon is full, you can hear Howler howling to the moon that he lost his only friend. The moon just listens.
THE LEGEND OF THE BRAVE SAOLA
I am the Saola. This story is about how I became brave and respected by my community.
I was bullied for a long time by many creatures because of the color of my fur and how I looked. They would call me names and push me around like a rag doll. I was made fun of because I had white and red fur and my horns were uniquely shaped like an antelope’s horns. The bullies called me the Asian unicorn. What they didn’t know was that my cousins are the cow, the antelope, and the goat. I felt like a caged bird because I was being pushed around all the time and I couldn’t get free.
Over time I started to grow more confidence and I started to stand up for myself. Then I finally decided that I was fed up with being bullied. I looked the bullies directly in the eyes and said, “This better stop right away!” I didn’t just stand up for myself that day; I stood up for everyone who has ever been bullied. I taught bullies that the reason they are being bullies in the first place is because they were probably bullied themselves. Then I taught them that instead of bulling other people, they should really think about what happened to them to make them bullies, and how it makes other people feel when they bully them.
THE FLOWER THAT BLOOMED FOREVER
Many years ago a little girl was born. Her name was Aiyana. She grew up with four brothers and one sister. On her twelfth birthday she went on a walk by herself. She found a flower and it looked so beautiful. She stared at the flower for a long time, captivated by its intricate petals. She thought about her life and how long it must take for a flower to grow so tall and beautiful.
By the time she got home, dinner was already done. Once she washed up, her mother asked her, “How was your day?”
“Well,” said Aiyana “it was pretty fun. I took a walk and found an amazingly beautiful flower. I might go dig it up tomorrow if that’s okay with you.” Her mother shrugged.
“We have to go into town to visit your uncles and aunties, so I don’t know if you’ll have time. Maybe you could show me first?”
“I guess that’s fine,” said Aiyana. The next morning she woke up and went in the kitchen. She asked her sister when they were leaving.
Her sister said, “In ten minutes.” That gave her enough time to get dressed, eat breakfast and brush her teeth. A few minutes later she went to go show her mom the flower. Once her and her mom found the flower her mom said, “That’s the most beautiful flower I’ve ever seen! Maybe we shouldn’t dig it up.” Aiyana agreed, and in doing so, the flower grew really tall and it’s petals unfurled like a giant umbrella. The shade from the flower made Aiyana and her mom very tired so they decided to take a nap. When they awoke, three small seeds lay before them.
They planted the first seed beneath the flower in respect for nature. They planted the second seed in front of their house. Their uncles and aunties planted the third seed on a nearby mountaintop. In this way, the flowers bloomed forever.
I have danced traditionally since I was three years old. When I am out there dancing, it feels like magic and nothing can touch me. Once I get going you can't stop me. I feel like I can't lose. I feel as if I am the best there ever was, there is, and there will ever be. It is just so fun because I can't run out of things to do! I feel like all the bad things in life are gone and nothing can go wrong.
It feels like I am flying and I am not even trying. Like my body is moving by itself! Like I am moving at the speed of light and, no matter what, I will not slow down; I will not stop. When I am dancing it feels like I have superpowers.
I dance in a circle but it feels like I am going in a straight line. It is a never-ending walkway with nothing to stop me because I'm invisible. I don't have to focus and I don't have to try because when I get going, everything becomes easy. I feel like I can dance forever. Like I can dance around the world one million times; dance around everything in my way; break down walls if I can't go around. I will never stop ever. I will just keep dancing.
I will dance to infinity if I have to. I will dance for those who can't. That's what my grandmom says to me every time before I dance. “Dance for those who cant.” She says, “You can be the best out there if you believe in yourself. You can do anything. Believe you are the best and you will be the best. Everybody has something they are good at and something they are bad at and, trust me, you are good at this.”
My grandmom believes in me and I believe in myself. I know my path and I know my way. I am a dancer.
GABRIEL THE TIGER
Gabriel has saber-sharp teeth and his fur is a brilliant orange like a blazing fire. He has a unique stripe pattern that goes on forever over his immense body. His paws are gigantic like the tires on a car. With every step he takes the ground shakes, but his muscular body drifts like the wind through the trees. His presence makes all the other animals freeze and gaze upon him. Gabriel is a tiger.
Gabriel the Tiger protects the mighty jungle from humans and other threats. He also has the responsibility of taking care of his two baby cubs. Unfortunately, a few months after they were born, their mother, his wife, the Queen of the Jungle, had unexpectedly gotten into a fight with a giant gorilla while searching for food for her cubs. She died a proud mother of two that day. Gabriel the Tiger, King of the Jungle, became responsible for his cubs on that day.
Gabriel was a fantastic father. He fed them, and he protected them. He taught them how to defend themselves, and how to hunt for their own food. Since his baby cubs were as big as full-grown lions, it was hard to take care of them, but he took care of them because he loved them.
When Gabriel was younger, his dad disappeared without a trace. Although Gabriel searched and searched he could not find him, and his dad never returned to their home. Therefore, Gabriel was always with his mom. His mom was a mighty tiger herself. She taught him to talk, walk, and eat. She instilled wisdom in him to know right from wrong. Gabriel learned much from his mother and loved her. That’s why he grew up to be the wise tiger that he was. As a full-grown tiger, Gabriel was the protector of the jungle, but he still hoped that he would find his dad someday.
Although Gabriel was the strongest tiger, there was a King Gorilla who was also tremendous and fierce. The King Gorilla didn’t live in Gabriel’s jungle. This is why Gabriel and the gorilla had never seen each other. You see, just as Gabriel was the mighty king in his jungle, the gorilla was the leader of his own jungle, with almost 200 gorillas under his command. But, Gabriel didn’t care about the King Gorilla, or his army, because there was only one thing on his mind: to avenge his queen!
Gabriel as a kind and good leader, but he become furious every time he thought about his queen that no longer reigned beside him. Gabriel knew where the King Gorilla lived and one day he decided to risk it. He gathered an army of 8 anacondas, 50 lions, 20 gorillas, 30 cheetahs, 60 tigers and many more who are loyal to their leader and friend, and they set out on a journey.
After many days, Gabriel and his army reached the outskirts of their jungle. Gabriel led his army onward, past the boundary of his safe jungle and into a new land. They walked for several weeks before they reached the King Gorilla’s jungle. Gabriel took one step with his massive paw and laid it on enemy territory. Being a king himself, he knew where the King Gorilla would reside, and he secretly mapped out a route to his cave dwelling. He silently and swiftly cut through the jungle as the early morning light glistened off his bright orange fur.
As Gabriel saw the encampment of his enemies, he told his army to get into their attack positions. The 60 tigers stayed back and surrounded Gabriel. The 50 lions encircled the enemy camp and crouched into pounce position. The 8 anacondas slithered up the jungle trees and hung down like vines, ready in strangle position. The 20 gorillas marched in pretending to be part of the King Gorilla’s own army and began the ambush. Next came the 30 speeding cheetahs that bolted in like bullets from all directions startling their enemies. Gabriel signaled his army to attack, and it was a full out brawl with fur flying, loud screams and screeches that lasted over an hour. When the dust settled, all the enemies were lying dead.
Gabriel’s army had many casualties as well. He had one anaconda, 12 lions, 2 cheetahs, 15 tigers, and 1 gorilla left. Then as Gabriel looked around he realized he did not see the King Gorilla among the dead. He turned swiftly and the King Gorilla emerged from his cave. There he stood, a massive beast standing about 12 feet tall and in his hand he held Gabriel’s wife’s head! He threw the queen’s head right in front of Gabriel’s paws. Gabriel was furious!
The King Gorilla had eight gorillas left, and they all stomped out the cave. The brawl began again, this time between Gabriel and the King Gorilla. Gabriel’s anger built up so fast he felt like a raging volcano ready to erupt. Gabriel’s strength grew to the strength of 100 tigers as he jumped high into the sky and with all his fury and two ferocious teeth; Gabriel pierced the King Gorilla’s neck. The startled King Gorilla stumbled back but caught his footing. With his mighty gorilla fist he punched Gabriel over and over. Exhausted, Gabriel’s face hit the ground.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw his beloved queen’s head and he had an instant flashback to all the precious moments they shared together. Gabriel mustered up his strength once again and got back on all fours. Standing up tall on his rear paws, he slammed the gorilla on its back. Gabriel took advantage of the gorilla’s position and furiously stabbed the gorilla repeatedly with his teeth until his lifeless body lay stretched out like a semi-truck turned on its side.
Gabriel dug a hole near a beautiful forest tree and laid his queen to rest. A tear fell upon the grave as he scooped up dirt to cover the hole. Then something incredible happened. As he turned away from the grave, he saw all the gorillas from King Gorilla’s jungle bowing down to him. Gabriel nodded his massive, but very tired, head in approval. They all walked back to Gabriel’s jungle, with his new jungle friends following close behind.
Gabriel was filled with confidence. “Maybe now I will finally be able to find my father,” he thought. He started considering the possibilities, but his thoughts were interrupted by a familiar sound. He looked up and there were his baby cubs waiting for him, standing proudly at the edge of his jungle. Gabriel smiled. “But for now, it’s time to feed these cubs!”
It was the middle of August, and Trooper’s first day of fifth grade. She was feeling very nervous. She got dressed and started running through the jungle. She stopped at a tree and started climbing. She did this often when she was mad or crying; usually it was both. She liked this tree because her best, and only, friend the Corabayby lived there. A Corabayby is a bird that will often find one person to talk to and nobody else. Her name was Katie. They had a great talk and Trooper felt much better.
Trooper climbed down and Katie followed. When she got to school there were only ten kids in class. Everybody found their seats and class began. Since it was only the first day, the work wasn't hard, so they just spent time getting to know the teacher. Trooper thought she wouldn't like her, but she did. She was a strict teacher when you were messing around, but that didn't affect Trooper because she never was.
The rest of August passed by quickly. Then September. Then October. In December they were doing the reading lesson and everybody was having a weird day. They were laughing and being rude. Trooper told them to be quiet and one of the kids named, Jamal, called her fat. Overwhelmed by her feelings, Trooper ran outside and there was Katie waiting for her. Trooper told Katie what had happened and Katie said not to worry, that everything would be fine.
The next day Jamal came up to her and apologized. He said, "A little birdie named Katie told me to apologize to you. She seemed like a pretty smart bird, so I listened." Trooper forgave Jamal and they did not have any more problems after that.
There once was a kid with ‘smart-mouth’ problems. He also had anger-management issues. At the beginning of the 6th grade, he got in a lot of trouble because of his anger. So the principal called his mom and sent referrals. That didn’t help. He still walked out of class, slammed doors and kicked lockers.
He was about to get expelled from school, so the principal called his mom one last time. He said he was about to kick the kid out of school and recommended KYDC, a school for bad kids. His mother cried. The kid saw his mother crying, and he felt bad. He knew that his mother didn’t want him to get kicked out, so he started to do better. The principal saw that he was improving and recommended a counselor.
The kid continued to do better for most of the school year, but in the end it started to go bad again. He got a couple of referrals a week and he was going downhill fast. So the principal sent him home and called for a meeting.
The next day, they went to meet with the principal. He said the kid had three options. He could either stay out of trouble, be expelled or be homeschooled until high school.
The kid picked the first option. So wish him luck!
THE PERFECT FATHER
There once was a young boy with dirty blond hair. His parents were divorced and his father was in jail. When the young boy turned six, his father was released from jail and he got to live with him for one year. He did not go to school during that year. After that, he went back to live with his mom. His mom got a boyfriend. The boyfriend was always mean, and he would make the boy take cold showers. He would go into the boy’s room in the middle of the night and roll him out of bed. The boy hated him, but he hated his real father even more.
In his dreams the boys saw his destiny. He had a new father. His name was Chris. Chris had a goatee, black hair, and he was very tall. It was a nice dream but then he'd wake up and have to go back to the real world. His mom broke up with her boyfriend and found another boyfriend. Every night, the boy would dream of Chris.
As expected, the relationship with the new boyfriend did not last. So, his mom and the whole family went to live with their friend, Shannon. The boy had a lot of fun with Shannon, and the longer he was at that house the less he dreamt of Chris.
Another year passed and the boy realized that the man he dreamt of was real! Only his name wasn't Chris; it was Shannon! He could not believe it. The wall that held up his tears fell. He had finally found the perfect father.
THE STRONGEST WARRIOR
Once there was a little boy named Chad. He lived in a village. Chad was forced to lift heavy things. He didn't like it, but his dad said he ‘just had to deal with it’ because someday he would use his strength to protect his family.
One day, when Chad was older, he went to his friend’s house. He told his dad he was going to be lifting heavy things with his friend, but he actually played with him instead. When his dad saw that he wasn't lifting stuff, he punished him by making him go out in the woods and lift boulders for an hour. His dad put a camera on a tree so he could make sure that he got his punishment, and then left to go take care of the rest of the family. Chad was left alone out in the woods with only his fists and some heavy rocks to throw at predators. Chad felt tired and frustrated.
Then, out of nowhere, the ground began to shake. Chad didn't know what was happening so he started to run home. He was running on the highway and a big crack went through his path. He ran faster. He was almost home when a tree fell right in the middle of the road. It was too big to climb over; it would take too much time. So, he lifted the tree and went under it.
When he got to his house it was almost destroyed. He went through the roughage and found his dad and the rest of the family. They were okay, except for his dad had a sprained hand. Chad ran to his friend’s house, but it was way more destroyed than Chad’s house. He searched for his friend. He finally found his friend under a table. They had a weight set and all the weights had fallen on the table. The table could not hold it so it had collapsed on his friend. It all happened so fast and Chad’s friend couldn’t get out.
Chad lifted up the table and all the weights to see if his friend was still alive, but he wasn't breathing. Chad picked him up and ran to the hospital. The hospital was still standing. He carried his friend inside. They tried to revive him, but he didn't make it. Chad cried out and shook his heavy fists at the sky.
Sometimes, even the strongest warrior can't save everyone.
Program Report: Chiloquin Elementary School
Program report prepared by Abram R. Katz , HF Director