School started September 4th for all Foxfield students but me. As any kid knows, the first week of school is the most important week of the whole year. Life in school practically depends on starting class on the very first day of the very first week; that’s the day that you begin to learn “survival skills.” For example, in the first week of fourth grade last year I learned several crucial bits of information: that Sam Stanton brought a new stash of pencils to school every Monday and didn’t mind lending them once in awhile; that all the week’s leftover peas and carrots swam in Friday’s soup and Wednesday’s pizza was not half bad; that the nearest girls’ room was in the fifth grade hall, but the fifth grade girls were vicious; that Mrs. Atkins, the music teacher, gave homework; that we had a twenty word spelling test every Friday; and, most importantly, I learned which kids were friend material and which kids were not.
Today is the 22nd of September. I am so out of it. Everyone knows the “survival skills” but me. It might as well be November. Our move took longer than we expected. Anyway, I clenched my teeth and tried to smile as Mrs. Patterlin took my hand (Yikes, I felt about 2 years old.) and led me into room 25. I hate this part. I’ve moved three times already and getting introduced is so embarrassing. Everyone else already knows everyone else; especially by the time they get to 5th grade. In fact most kids have known each other since kindergarten. I am a Martian being taken by the leader to meet the strange and scary citizens of an alien planet.
“Attention, class. Could I please have everyone’s attention?” Mrs. Patterlin towered over me like the Empire State Building; boy, was she tall. Her perfume smelled extra strong on this Indian summer’s day and my stomach began churning as the flowery odor mixed with the blueberry muffin from breakfast. All at once my confidence left my head, whizzed through my stomach, slid down my legs, and seeped out my toes. Eighteen heads with eighteen pairs of eyes turned at the same time to focus on my face. My insides twitched something fierce. A girl in the front had her back to Mrs. Patterlin.
“Olivia, are you with me?”
Olivia, a blonde-haired girl with crystal blue eyes and way too much lip gloss, turned slowly around in her seat and added a nineteenth pair. Olivia smiled sweetly at Mrs. Patterlin and folded her hands on her desk.
“Thank you, dear.”
All eyes were now on me. As Mrs. Patterlin directed her attention to the rest of the class, WHAM! Miss Blue Eyes stuck her tongue out at me. My mouth dropped open in amazement. Mental note: entry #1 on my “To Be Avoided” list – Olivia, a potential problem.
“Class, I would like you to welcome a new student to our school, and, of course, to our little family here in room 25.”
Little family? Does that mean that Olivia is my “sister?” Great. My brain hurt from the thought. Already I felt as if I had been standing on a guillotine for hours. “Put my head on the chopping block already," I begged silently. No luck.
Mrs. Patterlin droned on, “Class, please welcome Gwendolyn Claire. I’m sure that you will make her feel at home.”
Home – that’s exactly where I wanted to be. Most of the kids just looked at me and some even smiled, but Olivia Blue Eyes just glared at me.
Welcome to Foxfield Elementary, Gwendolyn Claire.