Austin Bat Cave Means Family
“I wait every week for this. This workshop gets me through Mondays.”
I heard this at the end of a writing workshop. The girl speaking was a middle schooler, and she had spent the last hour with other kids writing, drawing, cutting paper, and joking around.
I was visiting programs and decided to duck in and hang out with the Austin Bat Cave workshop at Austin Achieve Public School in Manor. The weather had swung to nearly ninety degrees, I was sweating in my car, and it had been a long day. Like these kids, I was at the end of a grueling Monday. We all shuffled into the classroom. I high-fived a few kids I recognized and introduced myself to some new Bat Cavers.
As soon as our lead instructor entered the classroom, the energy in the room lifted and the students were buzzing. Colin Hagendorf was a rock star to these kids. From the moment he arrived, the kids couldn’t stop talking. For the next hour, they talked about their projects and what they were interested in. They showed me snippets of anime and explained to me the origins of emo (it begins, apparently, with My Chemical Romance). We listened to bad music, and the kids wrote. Colin went around to each student, checking in on their projects and listening to their stories. He was a natural. Attentive and patient and invested. The consummate teacher. A perfect Bat Cave volunteer.
I asked one student why he kept coming back to Bat Cave’s workshop, and he told me, “This is my family.” There’s a reason Bat Cave workshops and students are so special. More than just sharing inside jokes, these kids are vulnerable around each other. They’re making art and telling stories that matter to them. When I left, I understood exactly why that student couldn’t wait for Mondays. In Austin Bat Cave, she had found brothers and sisters who listened.