Senior shares lessons of luck with over 200 listeners

Against the odds, Ruthie Osagie ’21 performs at the Moth Eastern Virtual StorySLAM

Mary Randolph, Editor-in-Chief

Eating chicken wings and watching
the Moth Eastern Virtual StorySLAM
from home, Ruthie Osagie ’21, mid-bite,
was shocked to hear event host Ophira
Eisenberg call her name to perform a
story, she said.
“I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’
and I screamed,” Ruthie said. “I was
panicking, but I was prepared. So I
turned on my camera, and I said to
myself, ‘OK, I guess we’re doing this.’”
Before a Zoom audience of 234
viewers logging in from Maine to North
Carolina to hear tales relating to luck,
the theme of the night, Ruthie revisited
a moment of stage fright at a freshman
year talent show when, against her
teacher’s guidance, she had switched her
song. As a result, she forgot the lyrics and
fled the stage for the bathroom, where
she spent a few minutes mortified.
“I had left my performance up to
luck instead of practice,” Ruthie told the
audience at the end of the story. “So I
got up, wiped my tears, hunched my
shoulders back, and put my chin up. I
walked back to the room backstage, and
I went up to [my teacher]. She looked at
me and smiled, and I looked back at her
and said, ‘Thank you.’ Because I realized
she was looking out for me when I wasn’t
looking out for myself.”
Though she worked hard on
multiple rounds of revisions, Ruthie
said, the story felt right for the occasion.
“This was the ideal story because,
one, it was the most interesting story that
had ever happened in my life, and, two,
it was probably the story that I could put

together most cohesively,” she said. “I
used to replay it all the time in my head
because it was so embarrassing.”
Ruthie originally created the story
for English Teacher Allison Kornet’s
Storytelling Workshop, a senior elective
focused on crafting and delivering,
rather than writing and reciting, true
stories for live audiences. In lieu of class,
students in the course attended the
two-hour evening event run on March
1 by The Moth, a nonprofit dedicated
to supporting stories and storytellers.
For the Eastern Virtual StorySLAM,
eight performers were drawn out of 64
entrants.
Though taking the spotlight before

hundreds of strangers was nerve-
wracking, Ruthie felt she had something

to prove and saw the new performance
setting as an opportunity to let go of
embarrassment, she said.
“When I told my mom that I had
submitted my name to tell this story at
the event, she was like ‘You really want
to tell that story?’ Knowing that people
remember that story gets me kind of
nervous, but I knew I needed to face this
fear. I’ve transformed, and that’s exactly
why I told this story: to finally prove
to my family and to myself that I had
overcome my fear of performing.”
Ruthie’s classmate, Quinn Liu ’21,
said her performance was inspiring.
“After watching Ruthie go, I wanted
to tell a story next time if the opportunity
came,” he said.
Other members of the class rallied
to tell stories within the broader school
community over Zoom. Bea Scanlon and
Dylan Wang (both ’21) shared stories of
“last chances” with English Teacher Jean
Klingler’s seniors as they prepared to

undertake a similar writing prompt, and
Jaden Young and Jackson Helie (both
’21) made appearances at a freshman
and senior grade meeting, respectively.
“This has been a difficult year for
community-building, and spending a
few good winter months sharing and
shaping stories together felt like a great
thing to be doing,” Ms. Kornet said.
“People were funny, and people were
earnest—the same people who were
funny one week were earnest the next—
and we just got to connect over the
whole range of experiences brought in
with each teller.”
Bea, the only other student from the
class to submit her name to tell a story,
said it was satisfying to see the effect of
Ruthie’s performance on someone who

had no idea what was about to happen.
“When Ruthie finished telling her
story, Ms. Eisenberg was just sitting
there with her mouth open. She was so
blown away by Ruthie’s performance
and how well-crafted the story was.”
The storytelling class and the Moth
event, Bea said, taught her just how
important storytelling is.
“Every time you talk to someone,
you’re telling a story, even if it’s not
a crafted story. Using your words
to communicate is so essential to
everything you do, and being able to look
at it through a crafting lens and examine
how you speak and the techniques you
can use to communicate better is so
important in every aspect of your life,
not just English class.”