Inspired by Zlata, Ms. Gruwell decides to compile a selection of her students’ diary entries into a book. Zlata had suggested that writing might be a good outlet for these students to escape the violence and horror of their everyday lives. The students tell Ms. Gruwell that classroom 203 is the only place they feel safe. They often stay late at night at school to do their homework, and Ms. Gruwell then drops them off, horrified at seeing the violent environments they live in, and guilty about living in a secure neighborhood.
The students’ diary-writing serves an individual purpose as a coping mechanism in their lives, as compiling and sharing these diary entries could make their stories heard and thus inform other people about the hardships they face. The students’ dedication to their academic work is striking, and shows that school is starting to play an increasingly important role in their life.
Ms. Gruwell decides to compile the entries anonymously, since many students could be punished for writing the truth. She feels the same kind of moral responsibility that Miep Gies described when talking about her involvement with Anne Frank. John Tu donates thirty-five computers to the class so that the entries can be completely anonymous, and Ms. Gruwell decides that the thirty-five students with the best academic performance will receive one at graduation. With the help of a lawyer, she designs an honor code that students will have to sign, ensuring that their entries are their own, unembellished stories. Ms. Gruwell organizes a meeting between her students and Anne Frank’s best friends, who survived the war, hoping that this will make the students excited about their new project.
Despite the fact that no one is yet talking about broad scale publication, Ms. Gruwell takes her task seriously. The moral responsibility she feels reflects the important nature of this task, as it can allow her students to finally express their voices in the world. Meeting Anne Frank’s friends establishes a direct comparison between Anne Frank and the students, emphasizing the moral as well as the personal nature of what they are doing. The students are not only recounting their lives, but also promoting important messages of peace and tolerance.