A rare look inside Avalon Institute with BBC Scotland

Written Byrottenemu
Published On

The BBC Scotland logo faded away to the image of the famed journalist Read standing in front of a Scottish castle, a bridge connecting the small island in the Loch to the mainland. Within the frame it’s clear that the man is standing in the middle of an ice rink, especially when a woman gracefully skates past behind him.

”We were invited here today to have a look inside these hallowed halls of Avalon Institute. After quickly rising to prominence following the attack on nearby New Cresthill by what we now know was a failed experiment into robotics by US arms contractor Trask, Avalon opens its doors to the press and public during what they call Winter’s Crest. Described as a time of year to reflect and come together, Miss Claire Cavendish, Head Teacher of the institute, invited the BBC to get a tour and see with our own eyes that they’re raising kids to be a productive part of the community.”

The first shot was a panoramic overview of the castle, which pivoted to focus on an ice rink that was created in front of the school. In the middle of the ice rink stood Kris Read, hands stuffed into his coat pockets, stiffly maintaining his posture on the slippery surface. A woman circled around him on ice skates before sliding to a halt right next to him. She was obviously quite proficient.

“What is it about opening the institute up like this that has you most excited?” Kris looked at the woman that had come to a stop right next to him.

Kaylee gave a friendly smile at the question; “I am hoping that opening the Institute can help dispel some of the more negative rumours about those of us with gifts and open up pathways for all of us to learn to accept one another as brothers and sisters again”

The journalist turned to face the camera, “and isn’t that just what the spirit of Christmas is all about?”

The scene switched to a walk through the high halls of the Institute’s main entrance. The camera panned around showing the three house flags of the institute as well as a fourth bearing the Avalon symbology in gold and purples.

”When not offering the standard curriculum there are plenty of extra-curricular activities to keep the minds and bodies of these kids sharp.”

Another scene switch showing a look around an art class, with all sorts of canvasses set up to show the kid’s work. The camera stopped to put a young woman in frame, her features rather mousy, for a moment the image lingered with an actual tail sweeping into frame.

”What is Avalon to you, Miss McMillen?”

”A chance. A chance that some might not have anywhere else. A chance to learn, to dream, to imagine in a space that can accept everyone. Some people might think it’s irony that Avalon is a castle. Strong stone walls and a foundation that’s withstood the test of time. A perfect place to keep people safe.”

”And it’s clear that this safety that Avalon provides is paramount to the students there. When talking to the Music teacher, and former rock legend Alastair Temple, he had this to say on the topic;”

”What I hope to give these kids is… a safe place, so that they don’t have to go through what I did. A place where they can be themselves, without being judged for what they are, just for what they do. A place where they have a roof over their head and a warm meal every day. Where they can learn about the world”

As the scene cut to a group of young kids playing out a scene from some Shakespeare play the voice over came in, “Normally this learning about the world focuses on maths, physics, English. But this week is all about going beyond that.”

“What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from the Bard?”

The English teacher stared off for a moment into the middle distance before quoting; “I think the King is but a man, as I am. The violet smells to him as it doth to me. The element shows to him as it doth to me. All his senses have but human conditions. His ceremonies laid by, in his nakedness he appears but a man.

The short Shakespeare scene gave way to the music from the musical Les Miserables, specifically a song called ‘Do you hear the people sing’, played and sung by the amateur students of the Institute. “In what are tumultuous times for the Mutant Community it’s the connectedness we see all over Avalon that seems to be important to the marginalised group. So we sat down with Head Teacher Claire Cavendish in an effort to understand why this festival is so important to her and her students.”

The scene showed an old library, stocked to the roof with old leather bound books, the camera panned across the shelves for a short moment and saw a couple of tomes fly in and out of the bookcases on their own accord. Then the image settled on two large chesterfield chairs where the journalist sat across from the head teacher, who stood out due to her purple skin as well as her perfect posture.

”How does Avalon prepare mutants for integration into wider society, both in terms of their academic achievements and their ability to navigate societal attitudes towards them?”

”How do you prepare someone for life?” … “You teach them maths and biology and history and English and all of the academics.” … “You hope they make friends and connections that last them a lifetime. You make sure they don’t lose sight of everything that’s happening beyond these walls.” … “You teach them to walk and talk, hoping they’ll learn to run and sing.”