Rodrigo was new to Harborside Elementary school. He had moved several times in the last year, attending multiple schools, and often leaving mid-semester when his family got evicted, or his mom found a new job. As a fifth grader what he wanted most of all was to be accepted by a group of friends who stayed in his life. He was outgoing, used humor as a copping mechanism, and was liked by his after school team at the ASES right away. Many of the fifth graders were talking about joining the Spelling Showcase at the end of the month, and he decided this would be a good opportunity to stand out.  
The Spelling Showcase was a way to connect kids from across ASES schools to network, 
and share in the comradery of sports or academic friendly competitions. At the start of the program reminders about respect and caring for all were shared, and call-and-repeat chants sounded to show support for all students.  
I met Rodrigo as he hopped onto stage as the fifth graders were called for their round of the Spelling Showcase. The auditorium was full of families, Rodrigo’s in the front row. His mom had taken off work early, and his siblings crowded into the chairs next to her. He squirmed in his seat in his oversized hooded sweatshirt. Thumbs tucked into his sleeves, and ankles crossed under the chair he nervously waiting for his turn. Later as he nervously stood at the microphone I announced his word, “community”. He took a breath and repeated, ‘Community. C-O-M-U-N-I-T-Y.” He could tell by my facial expression that the word was incorrect, but was immediately distracted by the positive roar of the audience that shouted, “That’s OK!” He shrugged, beamed down at his family, and clambered off the stage to sit with them. Throughout the rest of the competition he cheered the loudest for all the other participants, and jumped out of his seat with excitement when a new friend of his won the fifth grade round.
Thereafter we knew Rodrigo’s incredible, true character. He was an asset to our program, and fortunately was able to stay at Harborside the rest of the year. He made a positive impact across campus, and we saw him access the power of his potential. 
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