The Town that was Once Perfectville

Posted October 10, 2008 & filed under Notebook.

Sept. 30

Dear Queen Perfecta,

This is one of your peasants in Perfectville.  I am writing to you to tell you about your kingdom.  You probably remember from your visit two years ago that everything was perfect here in Perfectville.  Everybody was a friend.  There were perfect people and perfect children.  Nobody needed money.  There wasn’t any racism.  Everything was perfect.

Now it is a disaster!! Teens become pregnant. Children run away.  Racism has started.  Couples break up. Friends fight and break up!  This is definitely not perfect.

It all started when I walked inside a Kroger’s, and I was waiting in the Express Lane.  My milk was ready to be bought.  The man directly in front of me wanted his money back for his lottery ticket because the man said he wanted the winning ticket.  That was what he was supposed to get.  They made a deal that if he didn’t win the manager owed him a dollar, but the manager refused to pay him.

The manager dismissed the customer.  But the customer stayed.  The manager didn’t want to do this but he had to.  He called the bodybuilder to come and break his bones.  That’s when I knew Perfectville was becoming not so perfect.  My family and the world is in danger.  Next thing I knew the golden roads turned black.  Things were coming to a very bad end.  I’m sure I don’t have to tell you any more bad things.

Your peasant,

Ashley, 3rd grade
[art by adrian johnson via grain edit]

Running for President

Posted February 18, 2008 & filed under Notebook.

The 2008 presidential elections are fast approaching; candidates of every stripe and background are saturating the airwaves.jasper-johns-flag-moma.jpeg If there was ever a time to broach issues of democracy in action in the classroom, this would be it. While teachers should not endorse any particular political position, the students are usually ready to volunteer ideas of their own.

Last year, while teaching for WITS at Pearl Rucker Elementary, I had a chance to work with the students on a presidential election exercise. One of my students, Darion Waddle, wrote this piece about running for President, which was later selected and read by him at the WITS Young Writer’s Reading at The Menil Collection. This recording was made in the classroom; the students you hear in the background are his classmates, fellow fourth graders from Ms. Kamuiru’s HISD classroom. Click here to hear Darion deliver his address; the text of his speech appears below.

I’m going to be the President of my country because I want my friends, family, and country to believe me, for whatever it takes. I love my country. I will make America a better place. I will make my country clean by my army and stop the war, so no more men will get hurt. I will make America a better place.

I am the President. I will never, ever replace my job with anyone, not even for a million dollars. I will keep my job. I will love my country so much that whatever my country asks me, I will take the bad people out and keep the world a perfect place. I will give the poor my house. I will stop bad food. I will give bad people away. I will pay my army extra money for cleaning people’s houses, and I will call my army the Face Paints. I can make poor houses better. I love my country.julian-avatar-1107-128x160.jpg

Happy President’s Day, everyone.

posted by Julian Martinez, Writers in the Schools