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"He's Gotta Knife"
by Leah Sellers
2009-05-21 10:14:39
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"He's gotta knife!"

Terrorism comes in all Shapes, all Sizes, all Places, all Hearts, Minds and Souls of Darkness.

Every Terrorist - every Gang Member, in Reality, eventually thrives on the Energies of Self and Other nihilism. Seeks Control and Power through shoving Others down (psychologically and physically) or out of the Way. Through angry, careless, manipulative Violence and Chaos, and ultimately annihilation. Every Terrorist - every Gang Member has a Cause - a Reason (or Reasons) for violent grievance against the World - against The Others (whoever They may be).

In my Experience, Terrorists Are Not Born. The Innocent Babes - the Innocent Hearts, Minds and Souls who Become Terrorists are Made. Terrorists are the Creations of All Societies.

"He's gotta knife! He's coming into your room!"

T., the Homemade Terrorist, was steam-rolling our direction. All 6 foot, 1 inch and 390 pounds of him. A raging 8th grader with a Grudge. A Bone of Contention to pick and clean. T. the Marauder. The Charging, short-sighted, Rhino.

In Speaking Circle, three weeks earlier, T. had brought up the subject of Terrorism.

"Yeah, Miss, you take Osama bin Laudin and those guys plowin' those planes into the World Trade Buildings. He's stupid! He didn't do it right?

"What do you mean when you say he didn't do it right, T."

T. smiled sideways, icy blue eyes full of arrogant mischief. "If he was really as smart as everyone says he is, he'd have all of his homeboys doin' the dirty work - blowin' things up - killin' people while he stayed Invisible - behind the scenes. Let all the flunkies workin' for him take all of the heat, while he hides underground in all of his caves or wherever it is that he's hidin' now. Safe. That way, he can keep on schemin', givin' orders, and gettin' the job done. Let everyone else take the blame. Keep yourself clean - no one knowin' that you're the Master Mind - the Head Honcho. Great Bosses can murder anyone they want to - anytime, anywhere - and keep their hands clean. You use men who are loyal to you - and only you - to do all of the dirty work."

"The only way Osama was smart was using his religion to get his men to do anything he wanted them to - for him. Grinning maliciously, he had pointed his beefy forefinger skyward saying, "That way God gets what's His and Osama gets what he wants. Anyway, that's what I'd do. I'd play it smart. I'd lay low. I'd fly below the radar."

The Other boys in the Speaking Circle were watching T. intently - uneasily. A mixture of confusion, fear and anger was emanating from their troubled eyes and body language. The boys who normally shifted restlessly around in their chairs were perfectly still and visa-versa.

There was a Secret here - a dangerous Mystery. I could Feel it in my Bones - in my Instinctual Gut. But I could not put my Intellectual Finger on it. I needed more Information - more Proof. But Proof of what? Why were all of the boys reacting to T. - reacting to what he was saying so poignantly?

Now, a month later, the Dangerous Mystery was reaching out to grab all of us by the throat. Things within the Classroom were unraveling fast. T. had changed his strategy. He was definitely flying above the radar and exploding in our direction.

There was no Time to Think. I had to Act.

I jumped up and out of my chair. Looking quickly at Ms. P., my assistant, I quietly said, "Get the boys out of here. Go to the office. Call the police." I turned and ran toward the doorway of our Art and Science room, determined to hold T. back - to try and turn the unfolding events around.

The second assistant I had left in the Art and Science room with T. while he worked on one of his Research papers yelled out again, "He's gotta knife! He's coming!"

T. had refused to take his history test that morning. It was his only 'out' class.

His only class outside of the Self Contained, Behavioral Program I was in charge of. A Behavioral Program created for Emotionally Disturbed/Learning Disabled students, into which I had infused a hands-on/minds-on Fine Arts Based Program. Many of my students, had their 'disturbances and disabilities' not been so challenging and disruptive, would have been at the top of their classes or participating in Advanced Placement or Gifted and Talented classrooms.

If we were Geographically studying China, I introduced my students to Chinese literature, myths, legends and poetry. Every Story, Myth, Legend or Poem my students wrote about, analyzed or discussed within our Speaking Circle taught about Universal Truths: Honor, Honesty, Trustworthiness, Loyalty, Courtesy, Hospitality, Perseverance, Diligence, Responsibility, Personal and Social Conscience, Duty, Courage, Wisdom, Patience, Grace, Charity, Fairness, Compassion..etc. We studied, and wrote research papers concerning Chinese History, Geography, Art and Sociology. My students studied and created models and original student-conceptualized duplications of Chinese Architecture and Art in student carved wood and plaster modalities. We Studied the Chinese alphabet and glyphs and the students wrote their own original poetry in English and then translated and painted those same poems using the beautifully symbolic Chinese glyphs. We learned to make and use the Chinese abacus in order to compute our Math equations. We studied, and wrote research papers concerning, the Human Body's Anatomy and anatomical Meridians, the documented usages of Acupuncture and Botanical and Chemical compositions of the Herbal Remedies used for specific ailments during Science. We then compared and contrasted those findings with more modern western Medical findings and Remedies. My students were introduced daily to Chinese Music and Instruments from various historical periods. We made Chinese box kites and flew them during Physical Education. The students selected their favorite Chinese foods and beverages and learned to prepare and cook them for our Chinese Game and Kite Flying Lantern Festival at the end of the unit on China, before moving onto our next Country and unit of analysis and study.

 My goal was to immerse my students in each culture's, each global nation's Greatness, Wisdom, Beauty and Diversity. To analyze, compare and contrast the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How's of every culture politically, philosophically, artistically and sociologically. They soon learned that we are all really much more alike than we are different. That All Nations, All Cultures share many of the same Universal Truths of Behavior and Belief. Behaviors and Beliefs, which when Applied and Adhered to, proved to be the Glue of Society. Behaviors and Beliefs which kept the Howling Winds of Societal and Individual Chaos at Bay.

 A Hungry, Howling Wind each of my students was already familiar with, due to the External environments they were born into or, due to circumstance, were forced to live within (broken homes, foster homes, orphanages, etc.); or the chemical and physiological environments they carried Internally which adversely affected/effected their behaviors.

 All of my students were labeled as Emotionally Disturbed and Learning Disabled. They all had a past filled with a differing variety of Howling Wind Behaviors: physical and verbal abuse and assault, truancy, theft, jail time, destruction of property, drug use, sexual abuse, academic failures, breaking and entering, etc.

My job - my Calling - was to help them Mend their Broken Wings - their Broken Hearts, Minds and Souls - and Fly - while igniting (or re-igniting) their Interest in the Discovery and Exploration of their academic subjects.

I struggled every day to keep my students Active and Engaged mentally, emotionally and physically. Everything we did was aimed toward guiding my students to their Higher Selves.

"He's gotta Knife! He's coming into your room!"

I had disagreed with T.'s grandparents (his guardians), and the school psychologist, about his not being ready for an 'out' class yet. But I had been overruled.

I had warned them that he was still being physically abusive to the other boys. Especially, C., one of my sixth graders. That T. found every excuse under the sun to curse at and physically accost C., on a daily basis.

From the beginning of school, T. had been after C., a new arrival into our classroom.

In trying to understand T.'s animosity toward the young boy, I took him aside one afternoon and asked him why he found C. so annoying.

"I hate that punk. He's just like my little brother."

The little brother that T. had confessed to me at the beginning of the school year that he had tried to kill over summer vacation. He told me that his mother's interference had kept T. from strangling his little brother to death - from breaking his 'punk-a_ _ neck'.

During the summer, T.'s father had been released from prison. His father was a drug dealer and gang leader. His father had returned to live with a relative, who was also suspected of gang and drug activities, in a small town not far from T.'s present home with his grandparents.

When T.'s father was sentenced to prison for a couple of years, T.'s mother, an addicted drug user, had moved into her parents home to 'straighten her life out and get help raisin' her boys'.

T.'s grandparents were warm and compassionate people. They were 'well off' financially and highly educated. They were heartsick over their daughter's decisions and behaviors, but were determined to help salvage the lives of their two grandchildren.

T.'s grandparents donated needed materials to the classroom, attended all of our Holiday Gatherings, and helped out whenever possible with the Equine Therapy and Ranch Work Program my students participated in every Friday, and on occasional weekends.

T. loved going out to the Ranch to spend time with the Horses and Ranch staff members. One day, while I was helping T. groom one of his favorite horses, he surprised me. He slipped his long, thick arms around his horse's neck and stood hugging it with tears in his eyes.

"You understand me don't ya Boy, T.," whispered into the horse's neck. "No matter what happens, you're always glad to see me. You're a good Boy, W."

The relationships and skills my students built with the Horses, and working out at the Ranch, had brought about some extraordinary results with many of my students.

T. had made tremendous progress within my program during his 7th grade year. All of the techniques he had learned to help him control and process through and beyond his destructive temper tantrums and abusive rages that year had proven very effective. He had even begun to take a positive and protective leadership role with the other boys, and was excited about handing in good quality classroom work. Particularly in the areas of Science and History. T.'s grandparents and I really felt as though T. would probably be able to participate in a few 'out' classes the following year.

Then T.'s dad had been released to start a new life in the little town T. and his family had lived in together. T.'s Mother, a recovering drug addict, left the stability and safety of her parents' home, taking the younger brother with her, but leaving T. behind, in order to be with 'Her Man'. Since his father's release from prison, T.'s behaviors had become increasingly belligerent and abusive at home. After the incident, in which T. had tried to hurt his younger brother, the Mother had decided to leave T. with his grandparents. She told T. that he was' too hard to handle' and that he needed to 'stay in that program at the school, because he was doing real good in it'. From that moment on, due to T.'s reported behaviors, I suspect that T. felt betrayed and abandoned. He wanted to be with his father. He wanted to be with his family. He missed the cousins and relatives his father - his family had returned to. He felt chaffed under the saddle of his grandparents and the school's rules and discipline. T. saw his grandparents and the Behavioral Program as the entities hold him back from what he really wanted.

As the summer progressed, so did T.'s resentments, jealousies and other frustrations. Once again, he began to tantrum at home. He started to renew his usage of cursing, 'gang slang' and 'lingo'. Tearing up his room and putting his fist through a wall, T. ranted and raved to his grandparents that he was going to 'kill them in their sleep and burn the house down with them in it". That he was 'gonna kill that puny punk-a_ _' brother of his.

All of the progress T. had made during his 7th grade year was evaporating.

He threatened and complained to his grandparents that he wanted out of 'that d_ _ _ Behavioral Program. That he was ready and wanted to be let 'out' into the regular classes at his Middle School.

When the new school year began, T.'s grandparents approached me with the idea of allowing T. into 'out' classes before he earned the right to do so through our Behavioral Program's level system. I explained to the grandparents and the school psychologist that T. was not ready for any 'out' classes. That every day, since the beginning of school, I had to watch him closely, and use continual interventions, to keep him from verbally and physically abusing and attacking one of my new 6th grade boys. The young boy that T. kept telling me reminded him of his little brother.

I explained that T. had returned to his old habits of cursing and threatening others with physical harm almost every day. Especially when he wanted to 'get his way 'about something. He was Bullying his classmates again.

That when he had not liked how a flag-football play had 'worked out' that he had gone into a full rage, running off of the sports field and out into the teachers parking lot. He then pummelled three of the teachers' cars with his fists before I could catch up to him and intervene. When T. stopped beating on the teachers cars he dropped to his knees and began slamming his fists into the rough tarmac of the parking lot until his knuckles bled. It had taken several minutes for me to get T. to listen to reason and calm himself down. After walking him back to our classroom, I attended to and bandaged his scraped and bruised knuckles. I then allowed him to lay down upon one of the bean bags within our Calming Room - the 'Inner Sanctum' - and he had fallen fast asleep. I had let him nap for thirty minutes before getting him up. We spent a few minutes processing through what had happened, and then T., subdued and contrite had joined the rest of the boys in class. During Speaking Circle he had honestly apologized to his classmates for his behaviors. I sat proudly as each boy within the Speaking Circle forgave him and told him to forget it. All of us were laughing and joking with one another by Speaking Circle's end.

However, as wonderful as that experience had been for everyone, it did not change the reality of T.'s emotional instability since his father's return from prison. He needed more time to assimilate and process his tumultuous feelings toward everything in his Life, as it was now. He was not ready for the pressures which would be exerted upon him in the school's mainstream. I told them that I sensed that he would self destruct, and take others down with him, as he had in the past.

He had physically attacked students, and one of his teachers, before moving to his grandparents' home.

None of my input mattered. The needs and fears of the grandparents and T.'s natural charisma carried the day. The school psychologist entered T. into a trial first period history class.

The first few weeks, T. gloated to the other boys in the Behavioral program that, "It was the best!" He really enjoyed being out in the 'normal' class, and away from all of the 'Behavioral Low-Lifes'. That 'he was better now' and ready to be 'free of all of us'.

"He's gotta knife! He's comin' into your room!"

That morning T. had refused to go to his history class with my assistant, J. He was moody and refused to get up from the comfortable couch I had rummaged up for our Art and Science room for the boys to enjoy while they were reading or playing educational table games during their point-earned ten minute 'reward- break times' in between each course of study.

He had not studied for the exam his history teacher was giving the class that morning.

While we were discussing the reasons why he should take the test, and what I could do to help him study for the exam. T. suddenly jumped up with his fists clutched. "Shut-up, b_ _ _ _! I told you I'm not taking that g _ _ d _ _ _ test!"

Then he ran out of the Art and Science room's door and onto the regular campus. He had never spoken to me that way. I was truly taken aback.

I told my assistant, P., to begin our English class by having the other seven boys get out their research materials and papers and begin work on them for the first half of the period.

I then picked up the phone and called Officer Thimble, the on-campus policeman. I got his voice-mail. I told him that T. had angrily left the classroom, and asked him to be on the 'look-out' for T.' I also suggested that Officer Thimble keep T. with him in his office for awhile. That perhaps T. could spend the day with Officer Thimble or be taken home to his grandparents for the day. I frankly let Officer Thimble know that I was concerned that T. might physically attack someone. I was particularly concerned that if T. were returned to the Behavioral Room that he might attack the smaller 6th grader, C. I told Officer Thimble that I had 'a bad feeling about T.'s behaviors' that morning, and that it would be better if T. did not return to our classroom for the rest of the day.

I then rejoined my students, and two assistants, and began to help with the work on their research papers.

Within fifteen minutes, Officer Thimble returned T. to my room. T. was smiling sheepishly. His face was still flushed.

"T. has promised me that he won't do anything to harm you women folk or anyone else in your classroom. He and I had a man-to-man talk about how you're supposed to treat women. About how he needs to behave. He's promised me that he'll come back to the room and do his work," Officer Thimble announced confidently.

I could not believe what I was hearing. Officer Thimble was completely disregarding my concerns about T. In fact, Officer Thimble was making all of us 'womenfolk' sound silly and ridiculous. Officer Thimble was placing this very angry, very disturbed and possibly dangerous 6 foot, 1 inch, 390 pound young man back into my room, despite my warnings of his possibly hurting another student or one of us so-called 'womenfolk'.

After Officer Thimble exited our room with a cocky, 'in-the-know' smile, T. turned to me and said, "I'm not doing any work. I need to rest. I'm gonna lay down on the couch."

"T., you need to think about the choice you're making. You'll lose a class-point for every minute that you are off task," I said firmly. "I'll have to call your history teacher some time today to discuss your behavior this morning and set up another time for you to take your history exam."

"I don't care. Do what you want. None of it matters to me." T. declared.

"Do you want to lose your 'out' class? I asked.

"I don't care. I'm layin' down."

"I'm staying in here with T., Miss," G. chimed in.

"G., I need you next door with me. We're getting ready to begin our Speaking Circle." I replied.

"No Ma'am, I'm stayin' over here with T." G. retorted stubbornly.

"You'll lose class-points for every minute you're off task, G. You're doing so well. Why are you risking losing the level you've worked so hard to earn?" I asked pointedly.

"I don't care, Ms S. I'm staying over here with T. I'll read a library book or somethin'," G. replied matter-of-factly.

"Boys, please, remember that you can join class any time. The moment you do you'll start to earn your daily class and behavioral points once again. We're starting a new short story today. It's a good one full of heroes, evil villains, and monsters. I hope you'll decide to join us."

I saw G. cast a glance toward T. He was checking to see what T. was going to do.

T. didn't budge. He acted as if he had not heard a word I had uttered.

I asked Ms. J. to remain in the Art and Science room with the two boys, while I went next door to begin the Speaking Circle in order to guide the reading and discussion of our next short story.

I was puzzled by G.'s unexpected behavior. His insistence on staying with T. G. was normally so compliant. He had come a long way in improving his behaviors, and the quality of his class work However, I helped him find one of the classroom library books all of the boys would eventually be tested on.

G. smiled at me, "Thank you, Ms. S" Then he turned, walked over to the only other classroom couch, sat down, and began reading his book.

I walked next door and began our Speaking Circle.

As soon as I sat down within the Speaking Circle, T. began yelling through the open Art and Science doorway which connected our two classrooms, "Hey, you P _ _ _ Ant, M _ _ _ _ _ F _ _ _ _ _s! You don't have to do what she tells you to do! All of y'all, come on over here!"

Alright. I was going to have to apply some pressure to T., and observe where he went with it. I had to get to the bottom of his determination to Escalate. Determination to disrupt the Classroom as a Whole.

I had learned a long Time ago with Horses and People that if you Stand Strong - Stand Patient, Loving and Calm - but Strong during their Emotional Storms. Rode the Strom out with them. Endured and Secured them as they whirled around within an Emotional Tornadic Tailspin. That at the end of the Storm, when the Skies cleared and the Howling Winds of Chaos settled down - diminished. They found you still with them - Strong - Patient - Loving and Calm. No judgments. A Friend - a Mentor who would be there for them no matter what.

When you can ride with - stick with the worst in Someone without giving into the Howling Wind of Chaos a Bond of Trust is Created. The confusing, destructive Emotions transform themselves into a Soul Bridge between the troubled person and the person who, through it all, stayed with and bore it all with them.

At the end of the Storm Everyone benefits. Everyone Grows in unfathomable ways.

It's a difficult process. Not for the faint of Heart. But the results are amazing and Life Changing for Everyone involved.

I needed to apply pressure and see where this Storm was heading. T. had never behaved this way in my classroom before. This was new. I had a bad feeling about where all of this was going, but for Everyone's sake I had to find out what was he building up to with all of his pent up rage.

We were a Self Contained Behavioral Classroom. There was nowhere else to go. The office didn't handle my students' problems. That was our job. I had sought Officer Thimble's help as a safeguard and, had found no help at all. The buck stopped here.

"Ms. P., please take over the Story Reading until my return. I'll be back as soon as possible. If the period ends before my return, please, keep the Boys in this room for their ten minute break." I requested.

There was no moaning or groaning from the Boys in the Speaking Circle. That was odd. What was going on here? What did they know that I didn't, and why weren't they saying anything about it?

"Afterwards, have them go straight to work on their Science Research papers. Just follow our normal schedule and today's packets until I can return to the group."

"Don't go over there, Ms. S. Please, don't go over there," M. pled. His big doe eyes wide with fear and concern.

"I have to M. for all of our sakes. I'll be back as soon as possible," I replied, smiling reassuringly at him.

I looked around at the circle of Boys. They all looked tense and fearful.

What was going on?

"Come on you punk a _ _ sissies. You don't have to do what she says. We don't have to do anything we don't want to.! he yelled defiantly.

All of the Boys eyes were on me. They all sat still as Stone. None of them were behaving normally.

Without another word, I left the Speaking Circle in Ms. P.'s care, and walked through the doorway leading into the Art and Science room. Into the hungry Lion's Den.

"What do you intend to do, T.? What's your plan for today?" I asked matter-of-factly.

"Nothin'. I ain't doing nothin'. And you can't make me do anything," He answered snidely.

"T., I need to remind you that you're losing five points for every curse word you use. And that you're also losing points for every minute that you remain off task. I also need to remind you that when you ran out of the room this morning without permission, that you dropped a Level. As a result, you have lost your 'out' class."

"You can't do that. My grandparents won't let you. They want me out of this program, and into the regular school," he retorted angrily. He sneered at me purposefully while smugly intertwining his pudgy finger across his heaving chest.

"T. I am merely responding to your choices and decisions thus far this morning. You are fully aware of what the class rules are, and what you need to do to earn your points and earn your levels. No one is doing anything to you, but you, Sir," I answered.

"I'll be speaking to your grandparents later. Class rules are Class rules, T. Now, if you Choose not to work today, then you are Choosing the Consequences that go along with that decision," I continued.

"You can turn this around right now or later on. The Choice is yours." I reminded him. Now, the ball was in his court. What would he do with it?

"You're a Liar. I can't do whatever I want to. You're all Liars. My parents are M _ _ _ _ _ F _ _ _ _ _ _ g Liars. I hate all of you! Especially, that little punk a _ _ mamma's boy." He pointed through the doorway.

I knew he meant my little 6th grader, C.

I'm gonna kill that punk a _ _, M _ _ _ _ _ F _ _ _ _ _!" He stared at me maliciously. "And there's nothin' you can do about it, b _ _ _ _ ." He spit out the last word with tremendous force.

A diversion was needed.

 "Ms. J., are you writing all of this on T.'s point sheets? Don't worry about the points. Just write down what he's saying, and make a list of his most frequently used curse words and phrases, and place a mark by them each time they're used. We'll figure out the number of points he's lost at the end of the day," I directed.

Ignoring T., I turned my attention to G. Smiling slightly I asked, "G., are you ready to rejoin the group? It must be difficult to concentrate on your reading in this room."

"He's not going anywhere!" T. ordered, drawing the attention back toward himself.

He was really needing Control of the room. Why?

I looked pointedly at T., "That's up to G. Not you, Sir."

I returned my gaze to G. His sky blue eyes looked worried, but determined. "I need to stay here, Ms. S."

What was going on with G., I wondered? This was so unlike him. He didn't even like T. He sometimes had sought T.'s approval because T. was older, but on the whole, G. avoided interactions with T. Although, G. sometimes helped to protect the younger boys (the Munchkins) from T.'s unpredictable temper tantrums and bullying.

"Alright, G., but please, remember that you are still losing points for being off task, even though you're earning points for reading," I reminded him.

"That doesn't make any sense, T. snorted.

"You are always rewarded for the work you do. Just as you can lose points for what you Choose not to do. It's always up to you, T. You can either Choose to earn points by doing what's required of you or lose points for Choosing not to. It's all up to you," I replied conversationally.

"You're full of s _ _ _!" T. roared. "All of you p _ _ _ ant, M _ _ _ _ _ F _ _ _ _ _s are full of s _ _ _!"

"I'm gettin' out of here!" T. wheezed. I'm gettin' out of this M _ _ _ _ _ F_ _ _ ing Program - this M _ _ _ _ _ F _ _ _ ing school - this M _ _ _ _ _ F _ _ _ ing town! And there's nothin' you or nobody else can do about it! You can't stop me! I can do anything I want to do! T. shouted.

"What happens to you, is up to you T." I calmly agreed. "However, I feel it important to remind you that this program is your last stop, young man. If you fail this program, you go straight to a boot camp program. It's all up to you."

"My grandparents won't let that happen," T. argued with me. "I can do whatever I want! They can't tell me what to do!" T. yelled. His face and thick neck were bright red. White spittle dotted both sides of his snarling lips.

"Your grandparents love you, T. They want what's best for you. They have sacrificed for you. They will always do what is best for you - for your Future,' I said firmly.

"I hate those M _ _ _ _ _ F _ _ _ _ _s! I hate their rules! They expect too much! They're chokin' me! I don't have to do any of it! None of it! I'm leavin' and goin' to live with my father! T. blurted out.

"Are your father and mother aware of your plans, T.? " I asked quietly.

T. glared at me. He angrily pushed his body back up against the couch. Lips pressed tight into a white line. Arms folded hard across his broad chest. Breathing heavily.

He sat and I stood within the tense silence.

I politely and gently returned his gaze. Waiting for his response. Following the lead of his emotional energies.

A long, intense minute passed. I needed to release the pressure for awhile. T. was being quiet, but his inner wheels were turning and burning. His quietude probably wouldn't last for long. But then again, it might. I had other students and duties to attend to.

"Excuse me, young men, but I need to return to the other classroom. Ms. J., please, remain here with T. and G.'s point sheets. Their research paper materials and books are over there on the long table. The moment they begin working on their Science papers, they can start earning their daily class points again. Thank you."

Ms. J. looked at me blandly, "Will do," she chirped. Early in the year she had told me that she really didn't like working with 'troubled teenagers'. She said that the work was 'too hard for too little pay' and that she would be looking for another job at the end of the year.

There were only two months left before summer break. Ms. J. was merely biding her time. I had been working with Emotionally Disturbed/ Learning Disabled students for over seven years. I had watched many assistants come and go. They were right. It was not an easy job. It was a Healing, Mentoring Vocation.

I returned to the Speaking Circle and discovered where the group was within the Story. I began asking questions about the Story's content and the protagonist's problem-solving skills.

"He's gotta knife! Ms. J. squeaked. "He's coming into your room!"

T. was headed toward our Academic Room with a Knife and Wicked Intentions.

I got up instantly and headed toward the doorway leading into the Art and Science room. Hoping to stop him from entering the Academic Room. I knew who he would go after.

I looked back at Ms. P. and whispered, "Get the boys out of here. Go to the office. Call the police."

Ms. P. was frozen to her chair. She looked at me dumbly, but K., one of the older boys, got up immediately, "Come on guys, we gotta get outta' here." Jerking his arms around he continued, "Come on! Come on! Get up! We gotta get outta' here"

T. lunged through the doorway. His beet red face smiling evilly. "That's right you chicken s _ _ _s! You punk a_ _ed bastards! You M_ _ _ _ _ F_ _ _ _ing, s_ _ _ heads! Get out of my way, b_ _ _ _!

T. was malevolently staring at little C. His eyes were bright slits.

I placed myself directly between T. and the terrified young boy. "T. think about what you're doing."

His eyes were glazed over. He was momentarily immobile. A heaving Gargantuan. He pointed his knife hand in C.'s direction grinning from ear to ear.

I could hear C. whimpering behind me. "Somebody help me! Somebody!" he cried.

T. began slashing the Knife around in the air as if practicing what he intended to do to C. He face was still transfixed into that horrible Grinning Mask.

"T., please don't do this. Please, put the knife away. Think about what you're doing." I continued to move in his direction. Trying to get his attention off of C. He plowed into my Body. "Get out my way, b_ _ _ _! he bellowed.

I planted my hands firmly in the center of his chest. He was too large for me to even think about placing in a safe hold. Ms. J. and Ms. P were nowhere to be seen. I didn't know what else to do. I had to stop him.

We struggled to and fro. Push-pull. Slipping and sliding. He was still smiling. How could he be smiling? My feet were slipping out from under me. He was too strong. Too heavy. He was pushing me across the length of the room, looking straight at C.

"Please, T., look at me! Your can stop this. You can turn this around. You don't have to do this! This is not who you are! I pled.

T. looked directly into my eyes. His eyes became lucid. He appeared to really see me for the first time. He hesitated.

C. cried out, "Somebody help me! He's going to kill me!"

T.'s attention went immediately back to C. He shoved his fist hard into my chest. Waving the Knife wildly around in all directions, he pushed me down to the ground with tremendous force. He wrenched free of my hold on him, and walked right over me. I didn't notice that his Knife had ripped through my plaid shirt and sliced my stomach until much later in the day.

My eyes searched for Ms. P. She was hiding behind my desk. K., one of my 8th graders, had gotten all of the boys outside the room. Thank heavens. I could only hope that they would all go straight to the office and get help.

"Call the police," I whispered to Ms. P., while picking myself up from the floor to try and stop T. from hurting C. "Call 911."

Everything was moving too fast. T. had C. by the scruff of the smaller boy's tee shirt. He had C. pinned and sprawled out against the corner wall of the Inner Sanctum - the Calming Room. T.'s Knife was pressed up against C.'s carotid artery. C. was crying. Tears streaming down his freckled cheeks. He was scared to death. He looked from T. to me wall-eyed, afraid to speak.

T. smiled ferociously at me. "Don't come near me, b_ _ _ _! I'll shove this Knife into this panty waste's throat! I'll pin him up against the wall! You know I will!"

"T., I'm staying right here. I'm not moving. T. think about what you're doing. About where all of this will lead. Think about everything this will undo." I implored quietly. I had to be careful. We were all in unfamiliar territory. I could afford no missteps.

"I don't give a s_ _ _, b_ _ _ _! I'm killing this punk a_ _ Cry Baby and there's not anything you or anyone else can do about it."

I glanced toward Ms. P. She still had not called the police - had not dialled 911. She was frantically and nonsensically sliding back and forth behind my desk, like a chicken with its head cut off. What was she doing? What an idiot.

Her eyes caught mine. "I can't find Officer Thimble's number," she whispered weakly.

Oh, good Lord, Officer Thimble's number was written on a piece of paper stapled to the wall by the phone. This was ridiculous! Ms. J. was hiding in the room next door with G. (if she had not already fled the portable altogether), and Ms. P. was proving to be useless.

I was alone. Good Lord, all alone. Seconds and events were whizzing by in a blurred flurry.

I returned my attention to T., "T. think about what you're doing. I don't want you to wind up in jail. You've come so far. Please, let C. go. I'll stay here with you and we can work through this."

T. hesitated. He lowered the Knife from C.'s throat. C.'s throat was not cut, but it was covered by red, angry raised welts, and beginning to bruise. The knife must be dull.

T.'s eyes were filled with uncertainty once again. Did I detect fear?

C. sniffled and whined, "Don't kill me. I haven't done anything to you."

T. immediately snapped the knife back up against C.'s carotid artery. "Shut up, b_ _ _ _! You M_ _ _ _ _ F_ _ _ing, a_ _ hole! I'm gonna kill you, M_ _ _ _ _ F_ _ _er! He shouted into C.'s face. "Go ahead! Cry! You M_ _ _ _ _ F_ _ _ _ing, Baby! You are dead meat!"

C. cringed. Squeezed his eyes shut and remained quiet and perfectly still.

"T., look at me. Look at me. You don't really want to do this. Think about what you're doing. Please, let C. go and we'll work this out. Stop now, before this goes any further. Let C. go and we'll work this out," I repeated. Hoping my words would reach him. Would hold some meaning of Hope for him. He was not completely boxed in. There was a way out of this Trap of his own making. We could work things out.

"You stupid, B_ _ _ _ _! I'm gonna kill him and then I'm gonna kill you!" He laughed. It sounded more like a harsh bark. "You can't stop me! I'll kill all of you, M_ _ _ _ _ F_ _ _ _ers! You think I'm afraid of the police? I'll take as many Pigs down with me as I can, before they stop me. Those M_ _ _ _ _ F_ _ _ _ ers!

Ms. P. scurried out from behind my desk. I didn't know where she was headed. I didn't care.

I dashed behind my desk. Yanking the phone up, I quickly punched in 911.

It felt as if the phone were ringing forever. Weren't they supposed to answer 911 calls immediately?

Finally, a voice at the other end. I had no idea what they were saying. As calmly and as clearly as was possible I said, "There's a student with a Knife in my room. He's holding the Knife at the neck of another student. My name is Ms. S. I am a teacher at CPMS on Raindrop Trail. We are in portable 206. He's threatening to kill everyone. Please, come as quickly as possible. I don't have time to stay on the line to talk to you. But, please come fast. This is an emergency." I put the phone back on the hook.

As I started to come back around my desk to reengage with T., he passed by the front of my desk. He was bare tummied. He had taken his black shirt off and wrapped it around his left hand. I had learned from other students in gangs that gang members sometimes used their shirts as shields during knife fights. The Knife was held firmly within his right hand.

He appeared to be walking around in a daze.

"T.?" I asked automatically.

He ignored me. "Let 'em come! Let 'em try to take me down! I'll take those M_ _ _ _ _ F_ _ _ ing Pigs down with me! Every on of 'em!"

Those were the last words I ever heard T. utter.

He stomped out, leaving the door ajar.

I ran to the door and locked it. I ran to the Art and Science Room next door and locked it.

Ms. J and G. were huddled at the back of the room. Both were pale and drawn. Eyes large with fear and uncertainty.

"Is he gone, Ms S?" G asked.

"Yes, he's gone G." I answered.

"Please, don't be mad at me Ms. S. I stayed over here 'cause I thought he was gonna do somethin'."

"I'm not angry with you, G. Everything's fine between you and I." I replied quickly. "G., I need you and Ms. J to follow mw into the next room. I've got to check on C. and Ms. P." I was already on my way toward the Art and Science Room's doorway.

C. was curled up on the floor in a little ball. Ms. P. was squatting on the floor with her arms wrapped around him, soothing him.

"Is he alright? Is he hurt?" I asked as I hurriedly jogged across the room and bent down to examine him. I hugged C.'s shoulders. "Let me check your neck, C. Good, no cuts. Just some bruising and red welts. Are you hurt anywhere else?"

C. shook his head no, turning his teary eyes in my direction. "He tried to kill me, Ms. S. He tried to kill me."

I hugged him tighter. "But he didn't C., and he could have. You need to remember that." I said softly. "The police are on their way. I need to call the office and check on the other boys."

As I rose, there was a loud knock on the door. Ms. J. ran over toward the door.

"Wait, Ms. J., It might be T." I said forcefully. "Don't open the door yet. Please, ask who it is."

Ms. J. leaned up against the thick metal door. "Who is it?"

Ms. W. from next door. The office called our room, and asked us to check on you."

Ms. J. opened the door. Ms. W. stepped in. She looked harried and concerned.

"Please, lock the door," I requested.

"The police are here. Ms. E. and Ms. D. are watching my students. What's going on?." Ms. W. queried.

"Please, let's lock the door anyway," I repeated. "Until we know where T. is, it's just safer that way."

Ms. J. locked the door.

Ms. W. walked over to where we were. "Is he okay?"

"Yes, he's going to be alright,' I answered making a point to smile reassuringly at C. "He's a very brave young man whose been through a terrible time today."

"What happened?" Ms. W. asked.

"I'll tell you about it later. Right now I need to check on my other children." I started getting up to use the phone.

"They're fine," Ms. W. said. "They didn't go to the office. They went to the band hall and told them what was going on. I guess they know the band directors."

"Yes, the boys like the band directors. We've been going over to the band hall once a week for Music lessons." I explained.

"Well, the band directors didn't know what to think. I don't think they believed them. So, they took the Boys down to the office. The office secretary must know the Boys and she called the police and the principal," Ms. W. continued.

"Good. I called the police, too. I'll bet that sped things up when they received two calls," I added.

There was another loud knock at the door.

"Please, ask who it is before you open it," I reiterated.

Ms. W., a take charge, no nonsense, kind of gal, walked over to the door and asked, "Who's there?"

"The third little pig. Let me in by my chinny, chin, chin!" Replied a muffled voice.

Ms. W grinned. "It's Ms. D." She opened the door to a tall, robust woman.

Ms. D.'s face was flushed and she was out of breath. "The police have him. It took four of them to get him to give himself up. They had to put him in a hold and handcuff him in the middle of the street. He was headed over to the houses across the street. It was quite a sight. He was yellin' and cussin' to the top of his lungs. You could hear him all over the neighborhood."

"I need to get the other boys and make sure they're okay," I looked toward Ms. W. "Can y'all stay here with C. and everyone until I get back with the boys?"

"Someone from the office will be bringing the boys back. The school psychologist is on her way here from another campus to help. When the police arrive Principal St. said that they will want to get statements from everyone. She told me to have everyone stay here in the room." Ms. W. answered.

"Statements? I hadn't even thought about that," I said aloud. Turning back toward C. and Ms. P. I suggested, "Why don't we get C. up off the floor. Let me take one of the bean bags out of the Inner Sanctum."

"I'm not ever going back in there again," C. hollered, pointing at the desecrated Inner Sanctum.

"I can understand why you might feel that way C. We'll have to find a way to make that room ours again, won't we." I countered.

"I'm never going back in there again. He was going to kill me in there, Ms. S. You saw it! He had that Knife on my throat! He was going to kill me! What if he gets away from the police? What if he escapes and comes after me again?! C. cried out hysterically.

I needed to calm him down.

"The police have T. now, C. You don't have to worry about him," I eased the bean bag across the room. "Here you go, young man. A perfect spot, just for you. Would you like a coke or anything C.?"

"He attempted a tremulous smile, and shook his yes. His mind was briefly distracted from T.'s acts of Terrorism. He was just a little twelve year old boy who wanted a cold coke.

There was another resounding knock Upon the metal door. Ms. T. once again volunteered her services as the Official Door Opener.

The district's Behavioral Administrator, one of my favorite people, Ms. K.K., walked in the door accompanied by three policemen, and the rest of my boys.

I could relax now. The police were here. Ms. K.K. was here. Ms. St., the school principal (another one of my favorite people), showed up as well. She informed me that each of my students' parents were being called by the secretary at the main office. I breathed deeply and went on automatic pilot. None of what was happening, or had happened, felt real to me. I just had to remain present and focused for my Boys.

After everyone was reassured that everyone else was alright, we were all asked to sit down and write our statements about what had happened. The boys were nervous about writing the statements, so, I helped them with their grammar. They didn't want to be embarrassed by making 'stupid spelling mistakes'. Or so they said.

The police said that everyone had to write the statements in their own words and thoughts about what had happened, and that we were not to discuss it with one another until we handed our statements in to the policemen.

K. was refusing to write a statement. He kept saying that he didn't want to betray T. I let him know that T. had betrayed himself. That what K. had to say would be important. I also let him know how proud I was of his having had the presence of mind to get all of the younger boys out of the classroom when I had requested that they leave.

K. thanked me, but there was an underlying reluctance about him. Was he feeling guilty about something? K.'s statement consisted of a very brief three sentence paragraph.

All of the other boys also seemed to be hesitant about writing the statement for the police as well. But once they got started, most of them needed extra paper. They were very anxious to go to Speaking Circle so that we could all talk about and process what had happened.

Since I had bought C. a coke, I wound up buying all of the boys a coke. It was only fair.

During Speaking Circle the boys agreed with my idea to repaint the Inner Sanctum with individual murals of their original design filled with 'power symbols' of their choosing. Power symbols that we had studied and learned about in our multicultural units, such as the All Seeing Eye, Angel's Wings, Horses, Lightning Rods etc.. Power symbols that they related to, and would help them feel as though that Space - The Inner Sanctum - was theirs again. It would be our way of Purifying that Space for ourselves - of taking it back for ourselves.

There was a knock at the door. All of us flinched. Knock, knock. Who's there? Would have a different meaning for all of us now. Lingering Memory vestiges of T.'s acts of Terrorism.

It was a police woman and the precinct's police psychologist. We spent the rest of the day sharing and processing the day's events with them.

It was not until the end of the day, while visiting a friend and telling them of the day's events, that I discovered that I had had my plaid shirt ripped and my stomach sliced by T. I cleaned myself up and bandaged my belly. My friend suggested that we take a picture of my shirt and stomach as evidence. After returning home, I took a shower, rebandaged my stomach and went straight to bed. I had difficulty sleeping. I did not know what I was going to do with the information that T. had hurt me physically with his knife.

The following day, the boys, Ms. J. and Ms. P. and jumped into painting our chosen symbolic murals upon the Inner Sanctum's walls. I was interrupted all day with calls from parents, school officials and the police. But I worked hard to keep the atmosphere in the room positive and upbeat.

It took almost all day to complete the murals, but after we were done, we each stood up and told the empowering stories of the symbols we had used to reclaim our Space. We all 'oohed and aahed' over one another's artistic skills and symbol choices.

Afterwards, the boys expressed an interest in having another Speaking Circle in the time we had left. They wanted to process other feelings they had gotten in touch with over the evening. Ms. J and Ms. P. weren't interested in listening or participating. So, I allowed the two exhausted ladies to take an elongated break, with the promise that they would be there to help me get the boys to their separate buses at the end of the school day.

 As the boys, once again, related and recalled the horrible events of the previous day with one another, they revealed that they were all very angry with T. Claiming that they would never be his friend again. But by the end of Speaking Circle, after most of the boys had related their adventures both in and outside of the classroom the previous day, they grudgingly admitted that they were open to trying to forgive T. Or at least going through the motions until they could actually feel it.

C. was one of the determined UnForgivers. He swore that he would never forgive T. That he did not deserve to be Forgiven.

Every attitude a Consequence of Terrorism.

I had explained to them that Forgiveness was a Discipline - a Process. That it was not an easy Discipline or Process, and that it happened differently for everyone. But that another part of Forgiveness was how it would make them feel about themselves.

When I said that, M., one of my seventh graders, whose adopted parents were helping his personal development through church attendance, and church activities, started to tear up.

"I don't know about the rest of you guys, but I gotta tell Ms. S. the whole Truth. The whole Truth, guys. And you know what I'm talkin' about." M.'s big brown eyes seriously and meaningfully swept over the group.

K. looked immediately uncomfortable and nervous. They all did.

Was I about to get to the Heart of the Dark Mystery I had sensed for weeks?

M. plowed ahead. "Ms. S., first I need to tell you that I'm sorry that I never said anything to you. But T. said that if I did that he would come to my house one night, and kill my family in their sleep, and burn our house down with all of us in it."

M. paused and sighed. "When I told him I'd call the cops. He told me to go ahead. That if they stuck him in jail, that he knew some fellas who would do it for him. That they'd kill all of us and burn us."

I was shocked, but I could not afford to reveal any of my feelings. I kept my face still and my expression open. "I'm sorry that T. threatened and scared you like that M. That had to be a horrible experience." I reached out and put my hand comfortingly upon his slumped shoulder.

"Go ahead, M. Whatever you have to say to me it won't change how I feel about you. I promise." I said softly.

"I don't know Ms. S. This is pretty bad. It's hard to talk about." M. admitted.

"Go ahead, M. I'm listening." I prodded.

"T. came over to all of our houses this last month. Or at least I think talked to all of us about it." He shrugged his shoulders and looked at the other boys.

No one said a word. They were leaving it all to M.

M. squirmed in his seat, as if making himself more comfortable. "Anyway, he tried to get all of us to go into doin' what he did with him - or for him - or whatever. That's why none of us said anything when he started spoutin' off about Osama whoever. We all knew that he meant it. That he was tellin' everyone what he was doin'. He thought that we were all stupid enough to go along with him. But I like you Ms. S." M.'s voice broke and he began to cry. "Yeah, you make me mad sometimes when you make me do things I don't want to do, or you take away points from me. But I still basically like you. I could never hurt you." M. began sobbing.

I walked over to his desk and hugged him tightly. "What was he wanting y'all to do?" I looked at every boy in the room.

G. spoke up. "I don't know about everybody else, but he told me that I was his chosen one. That he was choosing me to help him kill everybody in the room. Then him and me were supposed to set fire to the building and run into the neighborhood across the street. We were supposed to hide there until the police came and everything was in a uproar. Then him and me were supposed to slip into the side door at the main building over here," G. pointed in the direction of the door he and T. had discussed. "And then he was gonna kill as many people as he could until the police came. He even said that he was gonna kill as many cops as he could before they took him down." G. sighed heavily and stared at me uncertainly with his beautiful sky blue eyes.

I paused, masking my real feelings, I asked calmly, "He visited all of you?"

C. burst in, "He didn't visit me. He never did. All of you were in on it. You all wanted me dead. Me and Ms. S., Ms. J. and Ms. P. You were going to kill all of us!"

The Speaking Circle erupted.

"That's not so. I never agreed to do anything. I just didn't tell Ms. S. about it when I should have," M. exclaimed.

All of the boys, except K., were exclaiming the same things. Upset that they were being called collaborators and possible killers.

K. stayed unusually quiet, peering around the Speaking Circle with nervous, angry eyes.

"I understand why none of you said anything to me. I understand that you were afraid for your families. For your homes. For yourselves. I understand why you were afraid to say anything. I really do." I said over the furore.

The boys quieted.

"It's alright. I Forgive you. I Forgive all of you. I might have done the same thing if I had been in your place. I still love all of you boys." I proclaimed.

"You're such a Tree Hugger, Ms. S.," K. broke in. "You love everyone and everything. You can't even kill a snake. I saw you that day when that girl from the other school ran up with that snake wrapped around her arm. That 'ole snake had already bitten her hand a couple 'a times. When you saw what was happening you walked right up to her and knew just what to do. All of her teachers from the other school were standin' around with their fingers up their noses. But you walked right up and said, "The snake is not poisonous." Then you found out the girl's name and you asked her if she had named the snake. She said, 'No, not yet.' So, you asked if you call him Brother Snake, 'cause you knew she was religious and all. And she said, 'Yes'. K. slapped his hand on top of his desk in amusement.

"That girl was retarded. She was not going to give up that snake. But you told us to find a feed sack real in the barn, quick. While you kept talkin' to her. When we got back with the feed sack, you opened it up and told the girl that 'ole Brother Snake., ha, ha. That's right that's what you called him." G. laughed.

All of the boys were joining in on the joke about Ms. S. It was easing the tension caused by their Guilt and that was important.

"You grabbed that 'ole snake at the back of the head, and talked that retarded girl into helping you unwrap it from her arm and putting it into the bag. Then you took that girl by the hand and led her to edge of the woods, out at the Ranch, and you let that snake go. You and that retarded girl were callin' out, "Good-bye, Brother Snake! God Bless you and help you find a good home!" G. guffawed.

We all shared a good laugh at my expense. The previous heaviness had lifted. That was the important thing. I love humor. Humor often makes the more difficult things in Life palatable.

The school bell rang. Ms. P. and Ms. J and I saw the boys to each of their buses. I did not tell my assistants what the boys had relayed to me. They should have been interested enough to be there for the Boys, and I had a lot of things to process and pray about.

Before I could leave that day, the phone rang. Ms. St. the school principal wanted to speak with me first thing in the morning.

"Yes Ma'am. I'll be there," I said wonderingly. I was so ready for things to settle down and get back to normal. Whatever normal was.

The next morning, I was greeted by Ms. St. and the school psychologist. They did not want me speaking to the papers or television channels about what had happened and wanted to know if I was the one who had contacted them.

I was shocked. No I had not contacted them. It had not even occurred to me. I was too involved with getting things on an even keel for the boys.

Then they informed me that someone had called them and told them about my injury. They wanted to know when I was going to tell the police about it.

My friend who had noticed the rip in my shirt, and taken the photos of my sliced stomach as evidence for the police, in case I decided to tell the police about it or press charges against T. for having harmed me, had betrayed my confidence.

I told them that I was still considering what to do about it. That T. was in enough trouble as it was. That C.'s parents had already pressed charges against T.

Ms. St. and the psychologist advised me to contact the police as soon as possible and let them know what had happened to me.

Then I was informed that another Behavioral teacher from one of the other campuses was coming over to help out in my classroom for awhile.

I told them that that was not necessary. That I was fully capable of getting the class back up to speed.

The psychologist disagreed with me and told me that it had already been arranged. That they were even thinking of changing my class into one of the boot camp programs. They had not made up their minds yet, but would let me know more before the end of the school year. There was a little less than a month and a half of the school year left.

I looked at Ms. S. She knew that I would refuse to teach within one of the boot camp programs. That I believed that Children changed when they were loved, strongly disciplined, and allowed to work within hands-on learning projects.

I could tell that she was uncomfortable with what was being said. So, I decided that I would speak with her privately a little later.

I was beginning to decipher the Handwriting on the Wall. The school district was afraid of being sued.

I was going to made a scapegoat in order to protect the reputation and rating of the school and the school district. They saw me as a liability. If I were out of sight, I would be out of mind. I was expendable.

I was sick at Heart. I felt betrayed and abandoned by the administration. Within the district, my only support system was my students and their parents. The school district was afraid. They were on the run. They were the greyhounds and I had become their prized rabbit. They were panicked and I had just become the sacrificial lamb.

I felt burnt to a crisp. A few days later, I handed in my resignation to Ms. St. and told her that the behavioral teacher they were sending into my room could go ahead and take over. She was doing that anyway. That I saw and understood the tactics and direction the school district was taking. I also asked that she use me as a Content Mastery and substitute teacher, until the end of school. I admitted to her that I felt betrayed and abandoned by the school district.

Ms. St. helped to protect me throughout the rest of the school year, by placing me in Content Mastery and other classes that needed a substitute teacher.

I phoned all of my students parents, and guardians, and let them know what I had decided to do and why. I also let them know that the school district had given me strict instructions to 'stay away from all of my students'. The school district wanted me to have absolutely no contact with my students, because the new teacher needed to be able to bond with them. According to them, my contact with the Boys would only be an interference.

When school ended, I spent the summer with each of my students and their families, horseback riding, bowling, viewing movies, hiking, walking and talking, in order to help their Understanding of what had happened to all of us, and Healing from the various wounds each of us had suffered as a result of those events.

So, in the Spirit of cooperation, I asked permission from the parents of my students to do things with them over the summer. That it was very important to me that the Boys know that I was not abandoning them. I explained, that if everyone was in agreement, and only if they wanted to, that we could all process whatever else we needed to regarding the Nightmare T. had left us with, and finally put it behind us in positive and meaningful ways.

So, when school ended, I spent the Summer with each of my students, and their families, horseback riding, bowling, viewing appropriate movies, visiting museums, hiking, walking and talking, in order to help our collective and individual Undertanding of what had happened to, and so deeply affected, all of us. All of us spent the Summer struggling toward Healing from the various Woundings each of us had suffered as a result of T.'s Terroristic Imaginings and Actions.

I had informed the police psychologist about T.'s ruining my shirt and slicing my tummy, and had handed in my shirt and the photos as evidence. But I also made it clear that I would not bring charges against T. or testify against him. I saw my role as a Healer and Mentor to my students. I would not participate in hurting them unnecessarily. He was already in enough trouble. She seemed to understand.

I never told anyone about all of the boys having been unwitting parties to what had happened that Terrible Day.

K., in private, had finally confessed to me that T. had gotten the Knife from him. That they had stolen it from one of K.'s neighborhood friends. But he swore up and down that he had never really thought that T. would go through with it. That his fear of what T. might do had been the reason that he had joined the Reading group that morning, instead of staying in the Arts and Science Room with T. He told me that he had been T.'s real Chosen One. That T. and he were supposed to have been the only ones left alive. That T. had just told all of the others that so that they would help T. with his plan before he got rid of all of them.

I don't think that K. ever really understood the ugly underlying implications of what he had confessed to me. How disturbingly damning it was on many levels.

Besides, in the end, K. had done the right thing in refusing to join T., and staying with the Group of Boys in Speaking Circle that morning. And eventually helping to get them all out of the room when Ms. P. had frozen in panic.

G. had insisted on staying in the Arts and Science Room with T. because he had wanted to protect all of us. He was planning on 'taking T. down and beating him senseless'. He wanted to be our Hero.

I never told anyone, including the parents of my students about all of their individual involvements in T.'s Terroristic plans either. I felt it better that the boys and I work through all of those murky and dangerous waters ourselves in Loving and Playful ways. I felt that far more could be learned and gained from our processing through what had happened to each of us amongst ourselves. I didn't feel that any of them needed to be punished legally. Each of them had become T.'s Victim. I wanted them to be Knowledgeable and Self-Aware Survivors. The boys needed to be brought beyond suffering to a point of Forgiveness. Forgiveness for T. and Forgiveness for Ourselves.

I will always consider that Summer to be the Summer of Grace.

Enough time has passed so that all of these Secrets can't reach out to hurt anyone anymore. So, the Secrets are now being Illuminated by the Light of Enlightenment.

As for the school district, I have no idea what happened to it. In my book, what comes around goes around. They have some uncomfortable karma to diffuse, and work through.

T., unfortunately, blew up at the judge in court. He tried to jump over his table in order to 'take a run at' the judge. One of his cousin's simultaneously tried the same trick over the courtroom's railing, but was stopped by a group of policemen as well. As a result of that, and the serious charges brought against him by C.'s parents and the school system, T. was sentenced to eight years in Juvenile Prison.

T.'s Knife and Terroristic Intentions had slashed into all of our Lives that Day.

I often wonder about how T. is doing. Every night that young man is my prayers and best wishes. So, are the rest of 'my Boys'.

I learned a lot from my experiences with T. and my other students that year. Lessons bitter-sweet transformed into sustaining milk and honey by God's Grace, and the miracles of Human Forgiveness.

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