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WednesdayOctober 2005

Some of you may not know this, but our first anthology is “in the works,” as they say. Who exactly are they, you want to know? I’m not sure, and at any rate, it doesn’t matter, at least not today.

Twelve truly remarkable seniors from Stella Beale’s non-fiction writing class at Greenhills have been matched up with twenty-two equally remarkable students from Valerie Shedd’s fifth grade class at Haisley. A few weeks ago I got to spend some time with the seniors, and I was truly inspired by their creativity when determining a theme for the anthology. Last week, I went in to meet the fifth graders, and found them all to be, well, pretty awesome. (When I asked what they like to write, their responses ranged from “realistic fiction” to “personal narrative” to “science fiction.”)

Yesterday, the stars aligned, as stars are wont to do—this time with eight pizzas—and the two classes met for the first time. MEAP tests were happening at Haisley, so when we got to the classroom door, Valerie quickly reminded them, “Silent cheering!” I don’t know if I have ever seen any moment as lovely as the one I saw yesterday, walking into a classroom to twenty-two open mouths on beaming faces, forty-four arms waving wildly in the air. (It happened in some sort of slow motion.) While being introduced to one another, it was discovered that there are quite a few similarities between these thoughtful fifth graders and their “senior buddies.” Many of them like video games, for example, and playing a variety of sports. “Music,” said one of the fifth graders, “is my life.” Nods all around.

The first meeting was, for lack of a more dynamic set of words, a total and complete success. And so, on this slightly cold, mostly overcast October day, I would like to thank some people. I would like to thank the fifth graders, for that silent cheer, for the way they welcomed us all into their classroom, and for their dedication to this project. I would like to thank the seniors, for their maturity and intelligence, for the way they walked into that classroom and got to work, and for their dedication to this project. And, I would like to thank Valerie and Stella, for their obviously masterful teaching, for their friendship and intelligence, and for their dedication to this project. People like you are the reason I practically have to pinch myself every day. I don’t know what I did to deserve a job this wonderful, but I vow to try to earn it.

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