Chapter One: Friendly Competition
After the Pledge of Allegiance and announcements, Miss Taylor hit a silver chime with a small mallet. Chirrr!
A high-pitched tone rang through our classroom. We hustled from our desks to sit in a circle on the orange-and-blue carpet. It was time for our morning meeting.
“Today is your chance to make a difference,” Miss Taylor belted like a singer on TV. As she stretched out her arms, her bangles tinkled in harmony. We cheered for her performance. “Do I have your attention?” she asked, beaming.
We smiled and nodded.
“Good. I have wonderful news: It’s time to nominate a buddy or yourself to run for student council!”
Giggles and whispers rippled like a wave, spreading from one student to the next. Lena nudged my arm. Simone smiled and pointed at me across the circle.
I grinned, and my heart beat a little faster. Representing your class was a big deal. You got to come up with ideas to make the school better. You got to help plan events. You made sure your class had a voice. I wanted to run. But could I do it? I grabbed one of my braids and twisted it back and forth, back and forth around my finger as I thought it over.
“Class, class!” Miss Taylor called.
“Yes, yes.” Instantly everyone quieted.
“I know you’re excited,” she said. “Let’s talk about the qualities we’d like our student council representative to have.”
Carson raised his hand first.
“Someone fair,” he said.
“Somebody who knows what our class likes,” Gabi offered.
I raised my hand.
“Someone who works hard and cares.”
“Great list,” Miss Taylor said. “We also want someone who can keep up with their schoolwork and student council responsibilities, like meeting after school, pitching in on projects, being a leader, and showing Brookside pride. Who can tell me what that means?”
“Positivity, respect, integrity, drive, and excellence,” we all answered together.
“That’s right,” she said, smiling. “Being on student council is a lot of hard work, but it’s a special honor. Okay, do we have any nomin—”
“Jada!” Simone hollered before she even finished.
My classmates clapped, and Lena hugged me around my shoulders.
“Miles!” RJ shouted. He was one of Miles’s best friends and always had his back.
I applauded with the others as Miles high-fived and fist-bumped the kids sitting next to him. We were always the top two in science—our favorite subject. It would be fun running for student council with him. No matter what, we cheered each other on.
She looked around our circle, pausing on each face. No takers.
“Jada and Miles, do you accept the nominations?”
We smiled at each other. My rainbow beads clacked and danced as I nodded.
“Okay, we have our candidates,” Miss Taylor said, and handed each of us a blue paper that we and our parents had to sign. “This pledge has all of the guidelines. No put-downs. No promises you can’t keep. You have to make a poster with your campaign slogan and show respect to everyone who’s running. And this year, we’re doing something new. All of the fourth-grade candidates will get to give their speeches in the auditorium.”
In the auditorium? I wrapped my braid around my finger and unwound it, twirled it and untwirled it, over and over.
“It will be great practice for fifth grade, when you can run for an office like president or vice president. That’s when you can represent not just your class, but the whole school.”
I couldn’t even focus on the rest of what Miss Taylor said. I’d have no problem making the poster, but giving a speech to the whole fourth grade? Talk about torture. I sighed and curled my braid around my finger again. What had I gotten myself into?
Copyright © 2017 by Kelly Starling Lyons. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.