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I looked down on the playground from the second floor.  Below, I saw  fifth grade Tyler, long bangs, green eyes, chipped tooth and a big mouth which Melody – light skinned girl with thick arms – offered to shut, no charge: “Shut it now so I don’t have to pop a hole in your head.” […]

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Four fifth grade girls stood in a tight circle at the four square court. Arms folded and jaws tight, they leaned in, cutting sideways glances toward a stout ten year old named Wanda. Wanda, in her homemade, floral print dress and new sneakers, looked down. She stood ten yards away. I had seen such a […]

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I thought I knew enough about a nine year-old named Manny. A stand-to-the-side kid who didn’t say much. Then, I caught him, his buddy Edgar, and two other kids just inside the school fence last Sunday. His friend Edgar had already been knocked down, and Manny prepared to return fire. He had his black hair combed straight […]

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Cecelia sat at the bottom of the slide at first recess, lower lip protruding, arms folded, and all nine of her years resting upon her like wet crepe. When I called out good morning, she pulled her arms tighter and did not answer. What gives, I wondered? I scanned the immediate vicinity to source out […]

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When the lights went out during a nighttime performance at the school a few weeks ago, we decided to clear the building and get folks home. Fifteen minutes later, only six neighborhood kids, all in the fourth grade, remained. I told them to gather in the hall under a single emergency light so that we […]

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