The end of the school year is always a frenetic time at 826 Valencia. Once our workshops, writing projects, and tutoring programs draw to a close, we work with creative volunteers to design, print, and publish the wonderful work that our smart, funny, and hard-working students produced during the first months of the year. By the end of the spring semester, we’ve released ten new publications, including Zero Inches Between Us, featuring oral histories from eleventh and twelfth graders at Mission High School; The Moon Changed Me, collecting stories of adventure from third, fourth, and fifth graders at BVHM; If the World Only Knew, our annual Young Authors’ Book Project; the 21st volume of the 826 Quarterly; and the second issue of Mission Magazine, with a theme of social justice!
What kinds of things do students write about, you may wonder, if you haven’t had the pleasure of working one-on-one with a young writer. Gio Almonte is a fifth-grader in our after-school program at Buena Vista Horace Mann. In this brief snapshot from the poem “What Respect Looks Like,” he describes the world he comes from with clarity and grace:
What does respect look like?
It looks like a silent room,
waiting for the answer to a question you don’t know.
It looks like a friend looking for a certain book,
or a man, who every day walks past you
and says, “Hello.”
That is what respect looks like.