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Underneath the pierced eyebrows and tattoos

My 'scary looking' students jumped at the chance to lend a helping hand.

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Scott Wallace - staff

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I'm a high school teacher. Say what you will about teenagers, I love my job because I love the kids. This time of year always reminds me of something that happened a few years back. At the time, the incident made my day; four years later it still inspires me.

It happened on the Friday before Christmas break, a pep rally day. Rachel the librarian and I had been assigned supervising duty in the cafeteria. This is where campus security herds all the kids who wander campus aimlessly because they aren't keen on heading to the gym to shout along with the cheerleaders or applaud as the football players were introduced. These are the disenfranchised, the misfit kids who don't conform to the popular peer groups, so they find and adhere to other potential loners like themselves. Rachel and I surveyed the group of a hundred kids scattered at tables around us, and we smiled.

"This is where I would have been in high school," Rachel told me quietly.

"Me, too, girlfriend," I replied, and gave her a high-five across the table.

We went on to discuss kids and books and how one encourages the MP3/Gameboy/portable DVD generation to shut off the beeping and simply become lost in a novel. Around us, students were engaged in all these activities; some watched movies while others played video games or sat with arms folded, heads bowed, ear buds plugged snugly in their ears.

A few tables away, a group of students were playing some role-playing game. They were "Goth" kids, dressed in black, their long, scraggly hair dyed black, their tattooed arms adorned with black leather bracelets. Some days before, one of my students had described how he and his Goth friends had been asked to leave a shopping mall.

"The security guard said we were scaring the customers," he told me. "Are you kidding me? What are they afraid of? Do I look scary to you?"

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