“That’s right. No prompts, just put the date at the top and then start writing. There will be a few guidelines to help us. Please don’t use other students’ names in your writing. You could give them a different name, or just use pronouns like she and he. Also, please don’t write insults or mean things. This is a place for you to express your feelings, good feelings and bad feelings, just not mean things. If I have a question about something you write, I will ask you to see me in my response to you. Okay, any questions before we begin writing?”
Kip wondered how long they would have to write, but she was not about to raise her hand and ask. Not on the first day. Susan must have read her mind because she raised her hand to ask what Kip was thinking, “How long will we have to write?”
Mrs. Holiday responded, “You will have five to ten minutes to write nearly every day, I promise. Often we will get out our Serendipity Journals and write as we are transitioning from homeroom to English. If there are no other questions,” Mrs. Holiday paused as she looked around the room, “Let’s begin! We will have five minutes to write this morning. Happy journaling!” She clapped her hands together again in that same bouncy way.
Excited but a little unsure how this all would go, Kip twirled her pen and looked down at her paper. When she looked up, she saw that all her classmates had started to write. Many of them were writing feverishly. For some reason, the Journey song Don’t Stop Believin’ started going through Kip’s head. Maybe because she was trying to hold on tight to the feeling of hope surging through her. Journey was a 1980s hair band that sang big power ballads that Kip’s mom loved to belt out at the top of her lungs while doing the dishes. Her mom told her that they were called “hair bands” because the guys in the group had big hair. The 1980s sounded so weird. So weird.
Kip put her pen to the paper and cautiously started writing. But, once she got started she found that her pen could barely keep up with her thoughts.
“Wow! It looked like all of you had a lot to write. I cannot wait to read your journals! I hope to write back to each of you tonight. No promises, but I will do my best. Now, let’s put our journals away and focus on grammar for the rest of our time together this morning. I have a fun activity for us that will help me learn what you already know about the parts of speech and what I get to teach you. Can you tell that I love grammar?” Mrs. Holiday clapped with glee.
“Is there anything you don’t love?” thought Kip, with a little smile. Mrs. Holiday’s enthusiasm was rubbing off on her for sure.
After English class, Susan showed Kip to her other classes. They were more normal, teachers going over rules and expectations. The same kids goofing off in each class and the same kids paying attention. Kip was happy that Cody wasn’t in any of her other morning classes. But, then they went to lunch.
She spotted him sitting with a group of boys. He glanced over at her as she walked into the lunch room with Susan. Kip was already feeling apprehensive about lunch because for the first time ever she was getting a hot lunch. Their family qualified for free lunch because of her dad’s job situation, which is helpful to her family, but made Kip a little nervous. But, Susan did say that they have incredible pizza at Jackson Middle School, so maybe there is hope for all the food. Maybe.
Susan showed Kip where the hot lunch line was and told Kip that she would save her a seat. Susan brought cold lunch every day except for pizza day. Moving through the line, Kip selected chicken nuggets that didn’t look too bad. She liked to dunk them in honey mustard but settled for ranch when they didn’t have her favorite sauce. She breathed a sigh of relief that she made it through the lunch line and scanned the cafeteria for Susan.
Susan saw Kip and waved her over to her table. Kip eyed the route from where she stood to where Susan was sitting, checking to see if she’d have to pass by Cody. Yup.
“Oh great,” Kip thought as she threw her shoulders back to fake a confidence she didn’t feel.
As she neared the group of boys Cody was sitting with, she noticed that they all dressed alike and had similar hairstyles. Name brand athletic clothing and hair that was longer on the top and was swooped to the side. Kip wondered if they were all jerks.
She stared straight ahead when she walked by their table but she could still hear them. It seemed like Cody wanted her to hear him when he said in a pretty loud voice, “That new girl’s name is Kipalee. Can you believe that? Who ever heard of a dumb name like that? She seems like a goody-goody too.” Cody and his friends chuckled at his comment, holding their hands over their mouths so they didn’t spit food all over.
Tears welled up in Kip’s eyes as she sat down next to Susan. No way was she going to let him make her cry. She took a deep breath, smiled at Susan, and started to eat.
“I am going to be okay. I am going to be okay,” Kip ran her mantra through her head several times before she could join in on the conversation between Susan and the two girls sitting with her. She was going to be okay. Maybe.
Questions for my editors:
- What do you think about the idea of the Serendipity Journal? Is it something that interests you? Would you like to have a Serendipity Journal in your class?
- What did you learn about Kip in this chapter? Did it answer any questions you had in previous chapters?
- Which character are you most connecting with at this point in the story?
- Are there any parts of this chapter that you did not connect with or that seem out of place?
- Are there any parts where more detail should be added? If so, which parts and what suggestions do you have?
- Did you learn any new words in this chapter? If so, what were the words you learned?
- Always let me know if you find grammatical errors.
Please put your edits in the comments on this post. I will comment back to you and make changes to the chapter based upon your feedback. I can’t wait to learn from you!
Behind the scenes info:
I feel exactly the same way as Kip about writing. I LOVE to write, but I mostly love to write what I want to write. I really am a little stubborn like that.
I was bullied when I was in high school and can relate to how Kip must be feeling. At StopBullying.gov, they define bullying as aggressive behavior that includes an imbalance of power and repetition. In Kip’s case, there is an imbalance of power with Cody because he is well-established at school with a group of friends and she is the new kid. A pattern of name-calling and mean behavior is beginning to emerge. If it continues over the course of the next few days, this will clearly be a case of bullying.
In my case, there was a power imbalance and there was repetition. The bullying that happened to me took place over a number of years by girls who were in the grade ahead of me. One of the scariest places for me in high school was the cafeteria, especially if I was walking alone. I never knew if I was going to be “bumped” into, called names, or threatened. As we continue in the story, there will be more similarities between Kip’s story and my bullying situation. I am hopeful that she doesn’t make some of the same mistakes I did!
I use mantras like Kip does in the chapter all the time. One of my favorites is to remind myself to be grateful by saying over and over, “I am thankful for all my blessings”. What mantra might help you?