Monday, April 19, 2004

The Roster of the Unforgettable

Monday, the one day of the week that my classes are virtually percolating. From 8:00 until 12:54 when my last group of students departs, you can feel the energy bubble. Conversations are louder, laughter is infectious, and I am constantly telling somebody to sit down and get back to work. Mondays at Max Hayes always feel like a long overdue reunion. So many of the kids act like they haven't seen each other in ages rather than days.
Today that enthusiasm was amplified by the fact that they were away from each other for over a week. Spring break is over, and we're in the home stretch. Only seven more weeks to inspire, to motivate, to work, to get the last projects finished.

Although many of the kids are happy to be back with their friends. Others are simply relieved that they are not at home. So many of their stories are heartbreaking... to listen to. Difficult and painful as they are to hear, I never can forget them.

This morning my Art 1 classes were starting first drafts of an editoral cartoon. I was making my way around the tables to check their progress, when I noticed one boy writing words on his paper, rather than drawing. As I stood behind him reading he looked up at me and said quietly, "It's all true."

Happy Easter
Hit in the face
Bloody Lips

" Are you okay?" I asked
" Yeah" He looked down. "My mom's boyfriend was drinking, then he made me drink too. He started to hit me, and I hit him back." He looked back up and smiled. The right side of his face bore the dark yellow mark of a week old bruise. "The police came. Now he'll be in jail for 10 years. He violated his parole."
"How long did he live with you?" I ventured.
"About a year."
"Was it worth it?"
His thoughtful smile broadened into a grin. "Yes" he nodded "It definitely was."
I grinned back at him,"I'm glad you're okay."

Then our conversation turned to writing music, playing guitars, and garage bands, and he seemed to relax. I felt privileged that he trusted me with his pain, and lucky to witness this difficult step towards manhood.

Today this curly haired boy, with the sad eyes and the bruised cheek, was entered on to my roster of the unforgettable ones.

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