And Still They Achieve is a series of posts outlining the extraordinary lives of the students that learn all around me. Each character is a blend of stories and lives that have crossed my paths throughout the years.
Adie spends a lot of her days acting older than her biological age of 13. She had a boyfriend that was 17, one that was 15, and a couple last semester that were 16. She has lost interest in middle school life. It is clear that the experiences of life had passed her by like a Japanese bullet train. The faint smell of cigarettes is a natural part of her. She wants to smell sweet or sexy or both, but the reality is that the blend of smells brings the nausea of disappointment to my nose. No one will really know if the origin of the smell is her home, her boyfriend's car or her bad habit, but it is clear that she can no longer smell this odor of a life hardening. Adie doesn't have moments that girls have. There were no moments to be silly, laugh, or play in her imagination. Life was too real and so hard to juggle that no second exists to be a kid. In the social studies, something has her attention. She is working on a writing assignment. She is focused, and writing with fervor. There are tons of moments like this in her classes. She is clearly a student that can mentally spar with the tough issues, express herself in writing, and scramble to keep up in class. Her test scores remain in a solid place that keeps the spotlight off of her, but life doesn't treat Adie as well. She told me in the fall that she was sexually assaulted by a boy. She actually let it slip only to recant the story over and over to adult after adult. She is walking that last thin wire that 13 year olds like Adie walk. At best, she balances it all the way to college, a trick that could change her life forever, but in reality, it is a matter of time before we aren't there to support her, and she falls hard to a place from which it takes a long time to recover. For now though, even with all of this, she still achieves.