Let me start by saying that the field trip was a general success. No one got killed, no one got caught shoplifting, and no one got hit by a car. But not for the lack of my students trying! For a first trip, it went swimmingly…and that’s including all the drama.
Drama: My very tall, very loud 14-year-old, Latrinia mouthed off to some older, angrier girls in the school. Four of these girls jumped my student 25 minutes before my class was leaving for the trip. I sent my para to find Latrinia somewhere in the school and she was found on the third floor hallway. After we gathered everyone, I headed out with my six students and two paras. About a block away from the school we noticed that a herd of girls from out school were following us, cutting class so they could jump Latrinia AGAIN outside of school walls. My para was very practical and stopped a cop card driving down the street to give them the skinny on the gaggle of chicks following us.
Costco was pretty fun, the kids wanted to touch everything…and they did. I only had one instance where I had to remind a student not to steal, and that was while he was eating grapes out of the produce section. Luckily, no one saw him. My students enjoyed the store, and the samples…one of the best moments was Latrinia posing with a sample of quiche exclaiming loudly to boast: “I got quiche, ya’ll!” It was ghetto-fabulous to the max. (And let me say…nothing has gotten me acclimated to working with kids in an urban setting like watching Flavor of Love. Ghetto is a whole ‘nother language.)
And speaking of ghetto-type teenagers, you’d be surprised how they all melted in the toy aisle. Gone were the world-weary smirks, and rough demeanors of my thugged out students. They were smiling, holing boxes of Legos. One of my girls likes Dora the Explorer. All my kids squeezed the enormous stuffed sheep dog. It made me remember that as tough as my kids act and all the burdens they may have to shoulder, they are still kids.
We ended the trip with cheap soda and pizza for everyone. My students complained that the pizza was “awful” but I figure that’s how they say thank you. It was certainly better than anything they’d get in the school, and I was happy to splurge on them. (Costco is pretty cheap…I ended up with a full pizza pie and 6 refillable sodas for $17.)
The second Drama: We knew those girls would be looking for Latrinia, so my para walked her an extra 8 blocks to the next closest subway stop…not wanting her to run into those other girls on the way back to school. As far as I know she got home safe.
Within two blocks from the school we saw the flashing lights of police cars and students fighting in the street. All but two of my students ran into the street toward the fight, dodging cars. As we approached the pavement was littered with weave. (If you don’t know…weaves are hair extensions) and there were several girls fighting with eachother, security, and cops. One of my students, Isabelle was standing on a police car, fighting with people trying to grapple her down. She was the only female with hair intact.
I dismissed class amidst the fighting, there was still 30 minutes to the school day. One of my students, Ron, refused to go home. He said it was because he wanted to catch the same bus he always took home where he was pals with the driver, but I sensed his anxiety to go out in the fray.
Also, and this is key, Isabelle is his girl.
Ron and I sat in the classroom, I was silently marking papers, waiting for the young man to start the conversation. I had a feeling that the fight was bugging him, but didn’t want to press him. (I would loathe to become that chipped teacher that must fill every moment with countless invasive queries.)
“Man, I don’t know if I can stay with Isabelle,” he said, sitting on a desk halfway across the room.
“Why not?” I played it as cool as I could, mentally thrilled that I was getting a student to confide in me.
“She’s always fighting, man. She wants her man to stand up with her and fight. I don’t wanna fight no one.” Rom said, fixing his car at a jaunty angle. All I could think was “Oh my god, am I having a near-adult conversation with my student?”
“Have you talked to her about it?” was all I could lamely ask. Isabelle was a very pretty girl, and Ron certainly saw something in her…but Ron was definitely not a fighter.
“Nah, she wants a man like LaTanya’s…who gets in the fight with her, I can’t do that man.”
I didn’t have any real answers for Ron, as happy as I was that he came to me. I told him to keep communicating with Isabelle, and I agreed that fighting is not the best option. But I didn’t mislead Ron to believe he could change his girl.
I haven’t seen either Ron or Isabelle, or even Lavinia for that matter, since Friday. I hope they are ok.