If Little doesn’t Return, Braxton is considering transferring Moultrie in to take over all the classes that she’ll be leaving. Moultrie is overwhelmed, but she knows that the seniors need her help. She assures Braxton that she’ll be there if he needs her to step in. Little hasn’t made an announcement about her return. Braxton wants to hire a replacement as soon as possible, as he doesn’t want the kids to be taught by a string of substitute teachers. The only saving grace of his stressful years was the seniors handing him their college acceptance letters, a product of the four years that they have spent together. He is proudest of Danielle, who was accepted into Stanford. She was accepted to the same class as Chelsea Clinton, the class of 2000. The only difference is that Chelsea can afford to go to Stanford, while Danielle was only offered half of the $30,000 a year she needs for everything. She’s planning on committing to Pitzer College, where she was offered a full ride. Crenshaw students have grades for Ivy League colleges, but it’s rare for them to apply, as they think that those schools are too far from home or too expensive. So far, this had been a good year for college acceptance in Crenshaw.
The AP exam is only 3 weeks away and Little still hasn’t returned. Danielle decided to step in and ask Little if she can tutor the students on a Sunday afternoon study session. Only nine students arrive at their designated place and time. Little arrives an hour and 15 minutes late, making a dramatic entrance. She hugs the students and tells them that she’ll be returning to school the next day.
The day that Little returned to school was a happy one for the students. They all welcomed her enthusiastically, optimistic about the following days. However, that same day was a stressful one for Braxton and other school administrators. Gwen Roberts, a math teacher for the gifted magnet program, was attacked by a group of young students who were cutting classes. Braxton drove her to the hospital where she got treatment for a black eye, a concussion, and torn ligaments in her elbow. Shortly after Braxton drove Roberts home, Lisa Lippa, the twelfth-grade physiology teacher, had her classroom shot at. Curt and another student, manage to find the slug. Lippa’s class was evacuated immediately. Lippa, who was eight months pregnant, was thankful that she wasn’t sitting at her desk when it happened, or else she would’ve been hit in the head. The rest of the week following the incident was tumultuous.
Olivia has suffered a few setbacks while inside the center. She was successful in passing Babson College and was offered a substantial amount for her scholarship. However, when a school official found out where she was, they reluctantly pulled back the offer. Fortunately, a handful of colleges in California have accepted her. She’s still positive that she’ll be out by the fall.
It’s the day of the exam and Little is worried about how her students will fare. She becomes fidgety until the afternoon. She asks the students how it went. Most of the students are pessimistic about their results, with Robert the only one expressing confidence. Little was outraged when Miesha told her about the distractions during the exam. She called the organization that administers the AP exams in New York. She asked for names and numbers to call to complain about the environment during her students’ exams.
A week after the AP exams, the author visited Olivia at the center. She tells him that she was devastated when she found out about Babson College pulling back their offer. Her counselor told her that it’s still unclear if she’ll be out in time for college. After meeting with Olivia, the author talked to Dunne. Dunne told him that Olivia needs at least eight to ten months before she could get out.
Little still aims to land a job at another high school. If she decides to stay at Crenshaw, she will not be teaching AP English classes, which will instead by taught by Moultrie. Toni Little hands out farewell letters for her students to read before graduation. Half of the class cried at what she had written. Then the students in her class start making accounts about what they remember from Little. After the class, they were all reluctant to leave and each gave Little a hug. She had made an impact in the minds of these children. Three days later, these same students made their way to the football field for their graduation. Danielle becomes the class valedictorian and delivers her speech. Braxton watched them graduate and realized that despite the casualties; they have excelled and made it to the finish line.
A few months after the graduation, they received the results of their Advanced Placement English and Literature exam. Only Daniel and Robert passed out of all of them. It’s obvious that Little had some responsibility with this, as the same students that didn’t pass received high grades for their AP U.S. and Government exams. Little still couldn’t find a job at another high school. She had filed a lawsuit against the administrators at the school. As of the book’s writing, two years after graduation, her rivals at the school have left. Little remained at Crenshaw and is still teaching AP English.
Most of the students that were profiled during their senior year were spending their sophomore year in college by the time the book was published. All of them have to work, either part-time or full-time, depending on the scholarship and financial aid that they’ve gotten.
Notes: The ending for the book is a bittersweet one, as Miles Corwin has written about the people so well, that they are relatable for most readers. It is a pleasant thing to think that most of the students were able to overcome the trials that they faced while in high school.