By Friday afternoon, Braxton had heard about what happened to Olivia. He spent the last four years trying to encourage and motivate Olivia, but now, everything is down the drain because of her sentence. Braxton was interrupted by Little who was complaining about a tenth grader that disrespected her in the hallway. She stopped when Braxton told her about Olivia. She thinks the system has been unfair to Olivia and tears up.
The following week, Braxton received news that made him feel better: Toya was returning to Crenshaw. She has been through a lot since she found her mother’s body when she was nine and had to live with an aunt. Braxton had high hopes for her because she is a gifted student. When she left Crenshaw in September, she was living with her son Kaelen and her cousin in a one-bedroom apartment. Kaelen’s father had little contact with her. She failed to enroll at a school that has an unwed mother program in Watts. She then decided to enroll in a program that provides a stipend and trains teenage mothers to become registered nurses. If she completed the program, she would have a means to support herself and her son.
By end of November, Toya’s cousin suddenly disappeared. Desperate to feed her son, Toya approached Alta Ray, her best friend’s mother and stayed with their family. Ray, whose daughter, Kemit, is also enrolled in Crenshaw’s gifted magnet program, had always been amazed about Toya’s determination. She knew that Toya and Kaelen had nowhere else to go, so she decided to take them in. Finally, by early February, Toya was accepted to a program that would pay for childcare and would grant her permission to enroll in any high school in Los Angeles. She immediately called Braxton and informed him. He told her that she could enroll later in the week.
During her first week back at Crenshaw, she is unfazed by her schedule. The first thing she does in the morning is drop Kaelen off at daycare. She stays at Crenshaw for evening classes to make up for the semester that she missed. After that, she picks Kaelen up and goes home at 7PM. She goes to bed at around Midnight after she has finished her homework. She’s not worried about her grades much, but rather she wants to enjoy the intellectual stimulation that she gains from school.
They were discussing moral courage in AP English when the topic about Tommie Smith and what he did during the 1968 Olympics was brought up. He is Danielle’s father and Little asked Danielle to invite her father to come in to class to give a talk. The following Friday, Tommie Smith dropped by Crenshaw. Sadi was asked to recite a poem that he wrote when he got inspired by the footage of Tommie’s feat during the 1968 Olympics. Latisha was then asked to introduce Tommie. He then delivered an empowering speech and answered questions in front of everybody.
Tommie Smith had always put emphasis on education when it comes to encouraging her daughter Danielle, as he himself strived hard to obtain an education when he was young man. His emphasis for education sometimes frustrated Danielle. She wanted to be track star at Crenshaw, but her father didn’t give her any encouragement. She inherited her father’s desire to be the very best at everything.
By the end of February, Danielle was the second student in AP English to get a full college scholarship. Pitzer College offered her $22,000 a year. She’s reluctant about committing to the college, as she is still waiting for Stanford.
Little handed out copies of Hamlet to her students and continued her tirade about the incident involving the parent advisors. She thinks the board is not taking her seriously. She confides to the author that she’s planning on suing Crenshaw. The next day, instead of teaching Hamlet, Little rips on her students and their parents for not standing up to her properly. The following Friday, Little suddenly turned cheerful and says that she had an epiphany. She says that she realized that the kids are actually on her side and continues to discuss Hamlet with them.
March is the month where college acceptance letters are starting to pour in. The students are talking excitedly about what college accepted them. However, a lot of them are still in limbo, as they have no idea how much they’re getting on their scholarships, so nothing is set in stone yet.
Princess was two and a half when her parents split up. He grandparents invited her and her mother to live with them. They were very fond of Princess and made her feel secure. Because they didn’t have the opportunity to finish college, they always instilled in Princess’ mind that she needed to focus on school. Her mother, Marie, names her Prince Rashaunda Tralesha because she knew her daughter would do great things. She has a scrapbook full of Princess’ achievements and accomplishments over the years. When she was twelve, her grandfather died of cancer. They thought that he had left them some money, but were surprised when they found out that he was actually in debt and left them with no choice but to declare bankruptcy. They had to move in a dingy one-bedroom apartment. The mother and daughter prevailed through the hardships. During her junior year, their lives became better, but by the end of her junior year her mother had to take some time off work because of her health. Their bills piled up and soon they were broke once again. Finally, Marie got a well-paying job in Malibu and was happy to be able to afford the things that Princess’ needed for her graduation. Princess got accepted to both UC Santa Barbara and UC Riverside and is eligible for financial aid and scholarships.
Toni Little’s week of peace was disrupted when she found out that the principal, Yvonne Noble, was planning on filing a disciplinary action against her. The students were staying clear of her because of her temper. Instead of discussing Hamlet, she drones on about her complaints about the school once more. Tashana, one of the students, spoke up about Little’s discussion of her problems in class daily. Little sends her to Braxton and continues to complain. On the morning of the last class before spring break, Little shows the author the little microphone and recorder she has inside her blouse. She plans on recording her meeting with the principal so she can have her impeached.
Notes: Little’s paranoia is taking its toll on Braxton and puts the kids in the middle of her troubles.