Paramount
Author: Sega Parks

Chapter 5
Journalism

Savannah walked slowly down the senior hallway, trying hard not to bump into any of the upperclassmen. She looked down at her schedule and saw the name N. Simpson. It was the name of her journalism teacher. Her stomach did a fluttery thing it did whenever she got nervous. She wasn't sure what the class would be like. That Le girl had told her friend Wendy that Mr. Simpson was supposed to be a tough grader.
   Savannah wasn't a terrible student, but her grades were usually so-so. The highest grade she had ever gotten was a "B" minus. The rest of her grades were usually C's and the occasional "D" plus. Since Paramount was supposed to be more advanced than the high school in Graysville, she knew she would have to work harder to make satisfying grades for her and her parents.
"Excuse me." A large, burly, football-looking guy said briskly to her when he accidentally bumped into her.
She watched him walk off with his friends and noticed that one of the guys with him was none other than her step-brother Davey. Savannah was kind of jealous of him. She never walked with a posse before. Usually, she was the one walking down the middle school hallways all by herself. If it hadn't been for Eileen and Phoebe, she would have really been alone.
  "Where are you?" she said to herself, wondering where Mr. Simpson's class was. She had been walking for nearly five minutes and she somehow kept passing up the class.
Grumbling, she squeezed through the sea of students and tried to spot her class.
"Hey," she heard a male's voice say.
She turned around and found an Asian photographer snapping away at her. She blinked rapidly and wondered why the guy just took a snapshot of her.
"What's your name?" the guy asked.
"Savannah Ripley." she answered slowly.
"Okay, thanks." he said smiling. "I needed a picture for the yearbook."
Savannah nodded and smiled at the boy. There was one bright thing about her first day of high school: She was already in the yearbook.
She looked around and saw a large middle-aged man talking to a blond headed woman who looked to be in her late-thirties.
"Excuse me," she asked politely as she walked over to them. "Do you know where room C234 is?"
"It's all the way back there near the activities office." the man said. "When you go down there, look to your left and you'll see a huge sign above the arch that says 'Communications'. That's where your class will be."
"Thank you." Savannah said graciously.
"Oh, don't mention it, miss." he said smiling.
"Is she going to journalism?" a girl's voice asked.
Savannah turned around and saw a small, blonde girl in a blue Lacoste polo shirt and white shorts. Her hair was pulled back into a braided ponytail and she had a huge smile on her face.
"Well, here you go." the man said pointing to the girl. "Tamara will show you the way."
Tamara smiled at Savannah and beckoned her to follow.
"I have journalism, too." she said as they were walking down the hallway. "Let me guess: You're a freshman right?"
Savannah nodded.
"That's cool. I was a freshman last year. Don't worry; freshman year won't be that bad. It may be a little difficult for you at first but you'll get used to it."
   She led Savannah to the communications department and into room C234. Inside, there were students sitting at the computer desks typing away. Savannah noticed that there weren't any black kids in her class. There were several Asians, a few Indians, and the rest were Caucasian.

Wendy, the girl she had met at the bus stop, looked up from her seat that was located in front of the chalkboard and noticed her. Her mouth stretched into a wide grin and she waved at her. Savannah smiled and waved back.

Everyone seemed so studious and smart. She couldn't believe that she was going to be one of them. The smart kid. She never felt smart at her old school and now being around a bunch of “A” plus students brightened up her mood.

“Good morning, class.” A middle-aged man who was bald at the crown of his head said, entering the classroom with a carrying case in one hand. “I am Mr. Simpson which I'm sure you already know for those who had looked at your schedules.”

Savannah sat down between Tamara and a girl with strawberry blond hair.

“Let's get started on names, shall we?” said Mr. Simpson lightly.

He walked over to his desk and pulled out a white piece of paper that presumably had the names of the students on it.

“Justin Alvarado?”

Here.” a male's deep voice answered.

Savannah turned around and saw where the voice came from. A boy wearing a white Air Jordan's t-shirt and green-and-blue linen shorts sat slumped back in his desk reading a copy of Sports Illustrated. He had sandy-blond hair that slightly pointed from the tip of his forehead. He clearly looked bored.

“Zoie Ayres?” Mr. Simpson called, looking up from his sheet of paper.

“Here!” a girl with long, curly black hair said perkily.

Mr. Simpson went through a few other names before reaching a girl whose name was Winnie Crenshaw. She was the strawberry blonde girl sitting left from Savannah. Mr. Simpson inevitability made a joke about her last name being the name of a ghetto area in California. That caused a few of the classmates to snicker.

Winnie leaned over to whisper to her friend who sat in front of her. Her friend had brown hair that was cropped to her shoulders. Savannah thought her green-and-pink dress looked Amish-like. She caught a few words of what they were saying.

“Can you believe that girl?” Winnie said to her friend.

“Yeah, I know.” the girl whispered. “She's new here and she already thinks she's everything.”

Savannah wasn't sure if they were talking about her not. They couldn't have been. She thought. Those girls had never seen her in their lives. It was probably some other new girl.

Several names later, Mr. Simpson called out Savannah's name.

“Savannah Ripley?”

“Here.” Savannah said clearly, protruding her hand out.
“Oh,” Mr. Simpson said nodding. “You’ll be one of the people I’ll remember.”

She smiled. Everyone always seemed to remember her for some reason.

I hate her so much.” Winnie said to her friend who was identified earlier as Ashlyn Quentin.

She nodded in agreement.

Savannah's stomach twisted. Okay. Get it together, Savannah. They don't even know you.

When Mr. Simpson was finished calling out names, he had Justin Alvarado pass out a sheet of paper to each of the students.

Tamara, in which Savannah had found out her last name was Weiss, turned around and faced her.

“Okay, so this is the most boring part of the class.” she instructed. “Teachers have one or two students to pass out papers to other students in order for them to write down facts about themselves. I'm sure you already know that from Kindergarten.”

Savannah laughed quietly. “I know. They expect us to act more mature know that we're in high school, but yet, they have us do an 'About Me' assignment like we're little kids.”

All adults are like that.” Tamara said, revealing her slightly-visible braces.

Justin came by their row and handed Tamara four sheets of paper. She took one and handed the rest to Savannah. Taking one, Savannah passed the two other papers to the kid behind her, and then observed the blank sheet of paper.

“What I want you to do is write your first and last name on the far left corner.” Mr. Simpson instructed the class.

For the next couple of minutes Savannah had to write her parents' name, her favorite subject, the names of her friends, and a paragraph about herself. The only thing Savannah didn't write down was the name of her friends. She really didn't have any friends. Eileen and Phoebe would have been listed as the names of her friends, but they hadn't returned any of her calls or MySpace messages. They were supposed to be her best friends and they hadn't even bothered to see how she was. Were they even her best friends? They never hung outside of school or anything.

After everyone was done, Mr. Simpson went on an introductory speech about Journalism.

“I can tell just by looking at you all that you're going to be devoted to your assignments. Journalism isn't only about getting your work done or getting the hottest scoop. It's about having the right social skills and being able to charm your sources.”

“I'm out.” Savannah said to herself.

Since she could barely hold a conversation with someone, she certainly wasn't going to do her job as the school's newspaper reporter properly.

Whatever. She'll learn.

“Like, say for instance you meet a really cute person of the opposite sex,” Mr. Simpson went on hypothetically, “And you're really attracted to that person. However, you want to know a little about that person in order to make sure that they're right for you. You know, to have the right person. So you ask a little about them and they tell you their likes and interests and you find out that they're awesome people to date. You ask what they like, they gave you what you want, and it's all because you charmed them. Does anyone understand where I'm getting at?”

“I think.” a few of the students muttered in unison.

“I'm saying if you want the right source, you have to be friendly and charming. Just like having the right person to date. Because if you're all 'WHAT DO YOU LIKE!?!?',”

He held his statement for the class to get a good laugh at his sudden outburst.

“You see what I mean?” he laughed. “If I talk to the really cute blonde across the street like that, she's not going to give me a proper answer because she's going to think I'm really rude or just plain psycho.”

Savannah's straight, pearly white teeth were showing. She liked Mr. Simpson already.

“Oh, right.” Tamara said to her. “I forgot to tell you he's really funny.”

“Yeah, I guess you have.” Savannah snickered.

Laughing was her number one favorite thing to do. It was fun and it made her feel good. She knew this was going to be one of those classes that got her laughing everyday.

 

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