Chapter 1

We get our school assignments today. I look around the classroom and sense the excitement in my fellow classmates. Everyone's much friendlier than usual, even the ever-popular Nick is giving two other guys the time of day. While I can't wait to find out what school I got, I'm also nervous. What if I didn't get in?

"You got in Frank, don't worry." my friend Ian assures me as we leave the classroom to head to lunch.

"Easy for you to say. There's no way you didn't get in." but my friendly counter has no effect on him.

"Okay, say you don't get into AL, where else are they going to send you?" he asks.

The high school distribution system is a complicated lottery, they could literally send me anywhere.

I shrug, "They could send me to that all-boy school near city college, or that really beat up looking high school by the lake-"

"Hey, don't diss LOL, my brother graduated from there." Kristina argues, catching up to us.

Ian chuckles, and pats Kristina on the head a couple of times, "Silly Kristy. Everyone wants to get into AL, it's the best school in the city."

"I know that, I'm just saying." she defends herself.

We reach the quiet cafeteria, where we pass all the usual tables, the male Athletes, female Athletes, Actors, Choir/Glee, Popular Asians, Nerdy Asians, it's a regular Mean Girls lineup. We pass them all and get in the cafeteria line to pick up our trays and silverware.

"Say, do you think Nick will take me to the eighth grade dance?" Kristina asks me, toying with her fork while we wait in line.

I can't help but squeal out a laugh, "...Nick? Yeah, right, better take a number and start waiting."

"Hey, just because his family's a major donor doesn't mean he's all that." she states.

I look over at the Actors' table where Nick's telling some joke while several seventh graders are listening intently, "Apparently, they don't agree."

"Ugh, seventh graders just don't know any better."

"Why do you want to go with him to the dance anyway?" Ian asks suspectedly.

"Why not? You always get a date to the dances."

He rolls his eyes, "Those were just friends."

"Yeah right." Kristina and I say simultaneously.

I rush home, making sure to catch the first bus that stops at our school just as the bell rings. Even though I've ridden the bus all my life, I couldn't wait until sophomore year when I can drive. That's when everyone gets their first car, and start driving to school instead of taking public transportation. I haven't thought about what kind of car I would want, just as long as it's not a hunk of junk.

I get off at my stop, just about a block away from my house. I could really just walk home from school, but I'm too lazy to be honest, and after a long day at school, I'm not really in the mood for more walking. Thank goodness AL is even closer to my house, I can literally see their football stadium's lights from my bedroom window. But...what if I don't get in? I shake my worries off, Ian's right, where else are they going to send me?
"You didn't get in." mother breaks disappointedly as I walk into the house.

I should've known, why did I let my hopes up? Of course, I'm not very smart, and I don't have the influence that Ian and Nick's families have. Everyone says that the distribution system is a straight lottery, but that's only part of the equation. According to Wikipedia, it's a complicated algorithm based on grades, family history, Affirmative Action, and a whole bunch of other stuff.

"So...what did I get?"


MLK? I'd never even heard of that school.

"Isn't that the old Spanish mission they converted into a school?" father asks, his eyes glued to his laptop.

"I thought it was that school where they sent all those troubled kids." mother joins in.

I roll my eyes, that's really encouraging.

I walk up the stairs as I text Ian,

"Didn't get in. Got MLK."

"Nvr heard of it."

"Me neither. Gonna look it up."

I enter my room, wade through all shirts I never put away lying on the ground, sit down at my desk and open up my laptop,

"Lol, can't find a school website."

"Ugh, sucks. Well, I got AL, fyi."

"Good for you."

"What are you gonna do?"

"Idk. Apply for an appeal?"

"Those never work."

I put my phone down, as a link for a Wikipedia page comes up in the search results. Reading through it, I discover that the school was once a Spanish mission that was converted into a school during WWI. Also correct, it's a school known for catering to "inner city" kids, so, as mother put it, "troubled kids", and is considered one of the poorest performing schools in the state. Is there anything good about this school? It mentions their ROTC program, what's that? Two links later, it's a pre-military program...comforting.