Little used the brief break between semesters to reflect on what happened during the past months. She thought about how her distractions prevented her from properly prepping her students for the AP exams. On the first Monday of February, when the second semester begins, she asked her class to write what they think “theme” means. Their next two pieces to study will be The Elephant Man and Hamlet. She decided to lock the door to her classroom at 8AM sharp and to not let any latecomers in. Little gets distracted once more when OJ Simpson was found guilty of killing his ex-wife.
The following week, when the students handed in their essays, Little was moved by Willie’s essay. Willie is a 6 foot 4 boy with a full beard and a diamond stud earring. He appears to be a twenty something man and popular among his peers. He was five years old when he last lived with his whole family. After his mother got addicted to crack and was arrested, they were sent off to live with various relatives, with him living with an aunt while the others was in different places. He was the youngest child and lived with an aunt before his father took him in. His father was a Vietnam veteran and always encouraged his son to get an education. When his mother got arrested, she moved to San Jose, but one summer before Willie’s senior year, he found her passed out on the front yard of a house in their neighborhood. Apparently, she was released and was back on drugs. He immediately called his brother to pick her up. Willie often cried during that summer because he loved and missed his mother so much.
Later during the same summer, he attended a program at Pepperdine University in Malibu and enjoyed his stay. He was certain that he’d go there for college. However, in October, he visited Morehouse College and realized that he wanted to enroll there instead. His father argued that Atlanta is too far from home and wanted Willie to attend Pepperdine instead. After a few stressful days, his father finally gave him the blessing to go to Morehouse. A month after he visited Morehouse College, he was crowned homecoming king at Crenshaw.
Olivia is running late for her court appointment. The author is giving here a ride to the courthouse. They arrived at the court thirty minutes late. Weiss tells her that because of her grades, the judge is contemplating about not sending her to camp, but Olivia has to stay out of trouble. The judge will have a decision by Friday the following week.
The students finally receive their first semester grade in the mail. Only six students in Little’s class got A’s. When class started, Little waved a copy of Los Angeles Times in class. The article is a profile of Naila, the first student to get a college admission letter and had gotten a full ride to Stanford. Naila has advantage over her other classmates because of her status as an all-American basketball player. When she was six, she joined a T-ball team—this is where her father realized that she was a natural. However, she was an even better player for basketball. Her father is a clerical worker and her mother is a sales representative for a telephone company—they both knew that Naila needed to get to college. Naila isn’t a part of the gifted magnet program, but she was part of the teacher-training magnet, one of the few students in the AP English class.
Braxton finally realizes that Little cannot end the semester without getting into another conflict. Two parent advisors racially insulted Little in front of a student who was just running an errand for the teacher. Little immediately went to Braxton’s office and told him that she’s going to the board of education to report the incident. She continues to rage until the following week, when she finally decides to transfer.
Olivia’s fate will be finally decided. She hobbled with crutches in the courthouse, having sprained her ankle after she slipped on her new job at a flower shop. She was accepted to California State University, San Diego and brought her acceptance letter, along with a Bible, to court with her. She faxed her application to Babson College earlier that day. Weiss asked Fairconnetue if she had decided to let Olivia stay. She said that she thinks that the girl should go to camp. Her decision is purely based on the fact that the state won’t give her additional money for fostering a child on probation.
Olivia was sentenced and arrested immediately. Fariconnetue revealed to the judge that Olivia had a fake ID and was cashing in food stamps and county aid checks at the last minute. Weiss was furious at her foster mother for doing this. Now, Olivia will be locked up. She might get sent to juvenile detention camp, but Weiss is aiming for her to get sent to the Dorothy Kirby Center, a much pleasant place for non-violent offenders like Olivia. It was fortunate that the judge was impressed with Olivia’s academic record and sent her to Kirby Center for six months. She will finish high school there and her case will be reviewed again by August. She will be released just in time for college and her record will be expunged when she turns eighteen. If she defies the staff or refuse to attend therapy, the judge will increase her sentence.