Brad leaned against the bricks, leering down the hallway.
“I can’t believe they let those immigrant kids into our school.”
Tony gave a nod. “I know, right? This place is going to the dogs.”
Cheryl looked up at them. “They’re just kids, right? They should be able to go to school just like the rest of us.”
Brad gave her a look. “They’re not like us. They can hardly even speak English.”
Rachel chimed in. “Well, there’s nothing you can do about it. They’re here whether you like it or not.”
Brad hooked his fingers in his jeans pockets. “Yeah, they’re here, but they better stay on their end of the school. This end is for the kids that belong here.”
At the ringing of the bell, the teenagers scattered, racing to make it to their classrooms on time.
Brad and Tony clambered into their seats in the back row of history class, just as the teacher began the lesson for the morning. As Mr. Henderson droned on, Brad caught sight of the profile of one of the immigrant girls. She had long thick dark hair that flowed down her back. She had dark, almost black eyes, and the side of her mouth curled up in a half smile. Brad watched her as she chewed on her pen, looking up at the teacher, hanging on to every word. Maybe these kids weren’t so bad after all. He’d sure like to get to know this girl better. She obviously cared about what the teacher was saying. He decided to tune in.
“And so, May 10th, 1869 marked a monumentous day for our nation. For the first time, the West was opened up to the East, when the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railways were joined, in Promontory Summit, Utah. The day the ends met brought the nation together. People from all countries worked together on the railways. That day it didn’t matter what country they were from, or what language they spoke. They worked together on a project that unified the country. As Reverend John Todd said in his prayer commemorating the occasion,
‘that peace may flow unto them as a gentle stream, and that this mighty enterprise may be unto us as the Atlantic of Thy strength and the Pacific of Thy love’
It was a time in our country when we weren’t afraid to say in God we trust.”
At this, Mr. Henderson gazed over at the flag hanging above the chalkboard. He seemed to lose himself in thought. A few of the students sniggered. Brad’s attention shifted back to the girl with the flowing dark hair. She was staring at the flag as well. Suddenly, as if she felt his eyes on her, she turned, and flashed him a brilliant smile. Brad felt part of something bigger than himself. He wasn’t sure whether it was the lecture by Mr. Henderson, or the way that smile turned his insides out. When the bell rang, he strode up to the front of the room to intercept her before she left the classroom.
“Hi, I’m Brad. You’re new here, right?”
She held out her hand to shake his. “Hola. I am Carmen.” Brad took her hand in his, surprised by the softness and warmth. He had expected rougher, working hands. Reluctantly, he let go, but steered her out of the classroom.
“I’d like you to meet some friends of mine.”
Carmen looked at Brad and shook her head. “No, Brad, you meet my friends.” She led him down to the end of the hallway where several of the immigrant kids were gathering. Brad’s confidence wavered with each step. Surely these kids wouldn’t be happy to have him on their turf. After welcoming smiles and greetings all around, Brad felt smaller and smaller. These kids didn’t care what he looked like; they were just glad to meet him. After a few moments, he peeked back down the way he had come. At the other end of the long hallway, he saw Tony, Rachel, and Cheryl giving him looks.
“Come here, guys,” he gestured to the group of kids he had just met. I’d like to you take you to the other end of the hall.
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